St. Louis Cardinals Rumors

St. Louis Cardinals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL Central Notes: Saltalamacchia, Garcia, Kang

After a more in-depth look at the Brewers earlier today, here’s a look around the rest of the NL Central…

  • The Reds will not pursue catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia despite an injury that could force Devin Mesoraco to undergo hip surgery, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Mesoraco will serve as a pinch-hitter/interleague DH and try to delay surgery for as long as he is able. The Reds have 8 games in AL parks over the coming two weeks, Rosenthal adds. The decision not to place Mesoraco on the disabled list is strange, to say the least, as he’s contributed a mere eight plate appearances to the Reds dating back to April 12. By opting not to place Mesoraco on the DL, the Reds have given manager Bryan Price a limited bench with which to work and prevented themselves from perhaps adding some defensive versatility or speed to the bench.
  • Oft-injured Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia has ramped up his throwing program to a 70-pitch live BP, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports on Twitter. At this point, St. Louis probably cannot count on much from Garcia, given his significant shoulder problems, but would surely welcome the opportunity to get what it can from him with Adam Wainwright down for the year.
  • The Pirates ought to seriously consider giving more time to infielder Jung-ho Kang, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review opines. Pittsbugh’s offense has scuffled badly, of course, with shortstop Jordy Mercer and third baseman Josh Harrison among the struggling starters. It would not be surprising to see Kang appear more frequently in the lineup, particularly given that he has exhibited some promising signs with a 10.3% walk rate, 17.9% strikeout rate, and sturdy .265/.333/.412 overall batting line, along with solid-enough defensive ratings, all in a short sample. Harrison, at least, presumably has a reasonably long leash after signing a significant extension over the offseason.

Injury Notes: Rendon, Johnson, Walden, Albers, Lucroy

Anthony Rendon‘s return to the Nationals appears to be on hold, as the infielder has suffered a strained oblique muscle during his rehab assignment, manager Matt Williams told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Rendon was on the mend from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee but had his rehab assignment shut down after the oblique issue popped up. The severity of the issue and timeline of his return are unknown at this point, per Williams, but the plan for now is for Rendon to rest more.

More injury news pertaining to the Nats and from around the league…

  • Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his foot over the weekend, Wagner wrote earlier in the week. Wagner writes that the 38-year-old Johnson is expected to be able to rejoin the club later this summer. Williams didn’t sound sure, however, as MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko tweeted yesterday. Asked whether Johnson would be able to return to the Nats this season, Williams simply replied, “I don’t know.”
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak expressed some concern over the shoulder and biceps of setup man Jordan Walden, who is currently on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. Walden is getting a second opinion of the MRIs taken on his arm, but surgery has not been ruled out as a possibility. Mozeliak said at this time, Walden is leaning toward pitching through the injury.
  • The White Sox will be without right-hander Matt Albers longer than expected, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Albers injured a finger on his right hand in the Sox’ benches-clearing brawl with the Royals earlier this season, and the digit ultimately wound up requiring surgery which will keep him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.
  • After a slew of bad news in this post, we’ll touch on some good news for the Brewers; Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the early signs on Jonathan Lucroy‘s broken toe are positive, and he currently hopes that he can return on the low end of his projected four- to six-week timeline for recovery.

Cardinals, Dan Johnson Agree To Minors Deal

Veteran first baseman Dan Johnson‘s brush with free agency didn’t last long, as the recently released 35-year-old has agreed to a Minor League pact with the Cardinals, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Johnson, a client of Excel Sports Management, began the season with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, and although he collected 10 walks against nine strikeouts in 40 plate appearances, he also picked up just three hits — all singles. With Joey Votto seemingly healthy and productive in Cincinnati, there may not have been much of an opportunity for Johnson to make his way to the big league roster anyhow.

Of course, the path to the MLB roster in St. Louis may not necessarily be an easier one for Johnson. Matt Adams is hitting well at first base and, as a fellow lefty swinger, there’s no possibility of any platoon situation emerging between the two. Johnson will seemingly hope to re-emerge as a bench bat with the Cards. He’s a lifetime .236/.337/.409 hitter in 431 Major League games, and his excellent .279/.400/.505 career slash line at Triple-A makes him a nice depth piece for a club to have.



Minor Moves: Teaford, Cooney, Abreu, Golson

Here are the latest minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Rays lefty Everett Teaford has accepted an assignment to Triple-A after clearing waivers, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. Teaford could have elected free agency as he has previously been outrighted. The southpaw made only one appearance during his stint with the big league club this year, but will serve as a useful depth piece for the organization as it works to bring back a host of arms off of the DL.
  • The Cardinals have selected the contract of left-hander Tim Cooney, the team announced.  In corresponding moves, Adam Wainwright was moved to the 60-day disabled list and catcher Cody Stanley was optioned to Triple-A to create room for Cooney on the 40-man and 25-man rosters, respectively.  Cooney, 24, was a third-round pick in the 2012 draft and he has a career 3.50 ERA, 3.95 K/BB rate and 7.6 K/9 over 385 1/3 minor league innings.  The southpaw is ranked by MLB.com as the tenth-best prospect in the St. Louis farm system, and he’ll make his Major League debut today when he starts for the Cardinals against the Phillies.
  • Infielder Tony Abreu and outfielder Greg Golson have signed with the Mexican League’s Veracruz Red Eagles, according to the team’s official Twitter feed.  Abreu elected to become a free agent last fall after appearing in 56 games for the Giants in 2013-14.  Abreu has a career .254/.283/.373 slash line over 615 plate appearances with the Giants, Royals, D’Backs and Dodgers since 2007.  Golson, who has 42 MLB plate appearances to his name between 2008-11, has spent the last three seasons playing in the minors, the independent Atlantic League and the Mexican Pacific Winter League.

Phillies Willing To Pay Some Of Hamels’ Contract In Trade

An incalculable amount of ink has been dedicated to the Cole Hamels saga and whether or not Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is asking too much in trade talks, but the GM himself added another layer to the story Tuesday in telling USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the Phillies would pay down some of Hamels’ contract in a trade.

“We are very open-minded,” Amaro told Nightengale. “We’re not afraid to subsidize contracts. We never told a club that we would not absolutely subsidize his contract. That is not a realistic way to do business. If there’s a deal to be made, and we have to subsidize part of it, we’ll do it.”

As recently as Spring Training, reports indicated that the Phillies were looking to add multiple top prospects and get an acquiring club to take on the entirety of Hamels’ four years and $96MM. (His contract also has a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM based on innings pitched.)

Amaro again took a patient approach when discussing the Hamels situation, noting that it’s understandable if teams want to assess their internal options before making a more drastic move to acquire someone from another organization. “It’s no secret that one team lost an ace and two or three teams have lost very important starters,” said Amaro. “Some teams want to move quickly. Other teams want to ride things out. I think all of us would rather do deals only after exhausting their own internal possibilities and go from there.”

The Cardinals’ recent loss of Adam Wainwright has fueled quite a bit of Hamels-to-St. Louis speculation, and Nightengale also touched base with Cards GM John Mozeliak to discuss Hamels. Mozeliak noted that the team will certainly do its due diligence on trade candidates. Asked if the team could make a deal without including Carlos Martinez, a key member of the 2015 rotation, Mozeliak replied, “There’s probably always a deal worth making.”

Nightengale lists the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and Blue Jays as teams that could desperately use Hamels in their rotation. The Blue Jays wouldn’t seem to have the payroll capacity to add Hamels’ contract, but perhaps with enough money being paid down, something could be worked out. And for what it’s worth, Amaro did mention Toronto GM when making a tongue-in-cheek comment about his stress levels regarding the Hamels negotiations, stating: “I guarantee I’ll get more grey hairs from my daughter [taking her driving test] than any trade talks with Mozeliak, Anthopoulos and Cherington.” Nightengale adds that Amaro had talks regarding Hamels with a team as recently as Tuesday morning, and “some desperation” began to creep into those talks.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took a lengthy look at the market for Hamels earlier today, noting that the Phillies do indeed covet Martinez, though it’s unclear if they’ve formally asked for Martinez in trade negotiations with the Redbirds. Per Heyman, the Phillies are also taken with Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara of the Rangers as well as Luis Severino and Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Despite a brutal month for the Red Sox’ rotation, there’s been no change to their refusal to part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, and the Dodgers similarly won’t part with any of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias, even with injuries ravaging their own rotation.

One rival exec noted to Heyman that, “A few things have lined up in the Phillies’ favor. There’s a little bit of a crescendo. And now is the time to act.” However, a GM explained to Heyman that he’d be more inclined to part with significant pieces to add someone controllable like Seattle’s Taijuan Walker than an aging star like Hamels. (That comment, for what it’s worth, was made prior to Amaro’s comments to Nightengale about absorbing some of the money on Hamels’ contract.)

It strikes me as unlikely that a deal would come together in the near future, but the early rash of pitching injuries, which grew with tonight’s news that Masahiro Tanaka is lost for at least a month, has likely increased the demand for Hamels. Though Amaro’s refusal to budge has drawn a great deal of criticism, it’s certainly easy to make the claim that he’s in a better spot to trade Hamels than he was late in the offseason.


NL Central Notes: Brewers, Wainwright, Hamels, Cingrani

There’s a belief in the industry that the 4-16 Brewers could begin selling off pieces in the near future if they don’t turn their season around, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman hears that veteran right-handers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza could both be in play. Lohse, 36, is a free agent at the end of the year and is owed $11MM in 2015. The 31-year-old Garza has quite a bit more remaining on his deal, as he’s in just the second year of a four-year contract. Garza is owed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn that same sum in both 2016 and 2017 as well. His contract also contains a $13MM vesting option that becomes a $5MM club option if it does not vest.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak spoke with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how the club will handle the loss of Adam Wainwright. While the short-term fix will be to rely on internal options, Mozeliak acknowledged that the bulk of innings the team expects from Wainwright might eventually lead him to look outside the organization. As Goold notes, a desire to limit the innings of young pitchers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha only further adds uncertainty to how the team will replace those innings. Goold notes that the team has spoken to the Phillies about Cole Hamels in the past but found the asking price unreasonable. Whatever route the team winds up taking to overcome this roadblock, Mozeliak has stated that he has the flexibility to add significant payroll this season if necessary, Goold reminds.
  • Reds skipper Bryan Price explained to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com why Tony Cingrani isn’t viewed as an option to step into the rotation even after a potentially season-ending injury to Homer Bailey“I made the decision – I was involved, a big supporter of putting him in the bullpen – not because that’s what we needed for this club at the time,” said Price. “What I felt was it was where he was best suited coming off a year of a lot of injury and shoulder concerns and the limited development of his off-speed pitches.” Price added that he certainly isn’t ruling out the possibility of Cingrani proving him wrong and one day being an excellent starting pitcher, but for the time being, he appears locked into the Cincinnati bullpen.

Adam Wainwright Out For Season With Achilles Tear

TODAY: Wainwright has a torn Achilles and will miss the year after undergoing surgery, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).

YESTERDAY, 11:41am: Cards GM John Mozeliak told KMOX Sports (on Twitter) that he “would imagine” that the injury is season-ending, but the team will wait for official word on Monday.

9:58am: The Cardinals confirmed (on Twitter) that Wainwright suffered an Achilles injury.

9:00am: Wainwright will see a doctor on Monday and receive a prognosis then, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

8:30am: The expectation is that Adam Wainwright is done for the season after suffering an Achilles injury last night, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Cardinals pitcher has yet to undergo an MRI, however.

Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up.  Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  The veteran left the park in a walking boot and was stunned by the freak injury.

I’ve never had anything down there to compare it to.  I’m thinking what in the heck just hit me. I thought the catcher’s mask must have hit me. Or the bat must have hit me. It was crazy,” said Wainwright. “I wasn’t even going that hard. I just popped it up. I saw that it was in play so I started to run and my foot just shut down on me. It’s in the back of my ankle. Everything right now is all speculation. I’ve not got my hopes up or down.”

Wainwright was doubly disappointed because, as he told reporters, he felt the best he had all year heading into Saturday night.  If Wainwright is in fact done for the year, it’ll be the second time in his career that he has suffered a lost season.  The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.

Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9.  For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.


Cardinals Likely To Replace Wainwright From Within

News of Adam Wainwright‘s potentially season-ending Achilles injury has already led to speculation about the Cardinals trading for an ace like Cole Hamels. But GM John Mozeliak says the team’s first move will be to try to replace Wainwright from within, according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If you get into May and early June and you don’t feel like the internal options are the solution you were hoping for then you might have to look outside,” says Mozeliak. Triple-A pitchers Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney and Zach Petrick could all be short-term options to fill Wainwright’s spot in the rotation. Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia, who are both hurt, could help later on.

Mozeliak adds that he’s not optimistic about Wainwright’s injury. “I don’t like to speculate until you have the full information, but if you ask me how I feel … not good,” he says. “All those rumors floating around seem to have some validity to them.”

It makes sense that the Cardinals would turn first to internal depth options, if only because it’s relatively rare for teams to make major trades so early in the season. Using their own pitchers for the next month or two would allow the Cardinals time to assess how much those pitchers can help and how strong their team is. Lyons, Cooney and Gonzales, at least, do have track records that suggest they can help in the short term, while Garcia is a wild card due to his injury history.


NL Notes: Wainwright, Hamels, Dodgers, DH

Earlier today, we learned the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright could miss the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles injury in last night’s game against the Brewers. GM John Mozeliak has said he will wait to determine Wainwright’s status until the right-hander has been examined by team doctors tomorrow. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from bubbling as to how the Cardinals will replace their ace.

Here’s the latest on those rumors and the rest of the news from the National League:

  • With the Cardinals set to host the Phillies for four games beginning tomorrow, Cole Hamels tops the list of external options to fill Wainwright’s void. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets the Cardinals do not have the prospects to satisfy the Phillies, but the Dodgers and Red Sox are lurking.
  • Besides Hamels, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz opines the Cardinals could puruse a high-caliber starter entering their walk year like David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or Jeff Samardzija. Miklasz, who does examine the Cardinals’ internal candidates, also suggests signing Paul Maholm or acquiring an under-the-radar pitcher like the PhilliesAaron Harang.
  • Hamels trade talks could accelerate in the wake of injuries to Wainwright, the DodgersBrandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, and the struggles of the Red Sox‘s staff, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, the new front office’s philosophy of adding depth with low profile transactions was put into place to weather a rash of injuries and those acquisitions will now become more relevant, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon.
  • One by-product of Wainwright’s injury could be a renewed push for the NL to adopt the DH, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “I wouldn’t be opposed,Max Scherzer told Heyman. “If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules. We keep searching for offense. This would be the easiest way to add offense.Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, as quoted by MLive.com’s Aaron McMann, puts it more bluntly, “When a pitcher goes down with an injury when he’s hitting, you make people second guess the National League’s style of play.

Heyman’s Latest: Bryant, Upton, Rays, Leake, Soriano, Polanco

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark is said to be “ready to reach out to [Kris] Bryant soon to determine his mindset” on whether or not a grievance should be filed against the Cubs for holding him in Triple-A to start the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column. Heyman notes that the union could file a grievance on Bryant’s behalf even without his consent, though that’s unlikely. The issue at hand, of course, would be whether or not Bryant was clearly one of Chicago’s 25 best players and the demotion was made purely for service time implications. (Chicago bought an extra year of control over Bryant by stashing him in the Minors for all of eight games/11 days). Heyman points out that it would be difficult to an arbitrator to rule in Bryant’s favor, as there’s no precedent for this type of grievance. Players in similar situations have historically been hesitant to file a grievance, he adds, because it would be a contentious way to begin a relationship with a team to which a player will be tied for the next six-plus years. A “Cubs connected person” called the notion of a grievance “laughable” when asked by Heyman. However, the points that Bryant was recalled on the first day the team could add him while still delaying free agency and slotted directly into the cleanup spot could make a case that the club had an understanding of his value, Heyman writes. From the union’s perspective, it’s understandable that they’d have interest in preventing this type of situation in the future, even if it’s a long shot.

More highlights from a lengthy Heyman column…

  • The Padres don’t yet view Melvin Upton Jr. as a throwaway piece and will use him as an occasional outfielder and pinch-runner, Heyman writes. He also looks back on Upton’s original five-year, $75.2MM pact and notes that it’s one of the worst contracts in recent history, particularly given the fact that the next-highest offer was believed to come from the Phillies at somewhere in the $40MMs.
  • The league’s investigation into the Rays‘ allegations of the Cubs‘ tampering in the Joe Maddon saga could come to a close as soon as next week, per Heyman. MLB was still interviewing people as recently as last week, but to this point there “is believed to have been no smoking guns found.”
  • The Reds never approached right-hander Mike Leake about a contract extension this offseason, and the free-agent-to-be is said to be a bit hurt not to have been contacted. Leake’s not a front-line starter, but he’ll hit the open market heading into his age-28 season and currently sports a 3.56 ERA in 427 1/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. A third straight season of 190+ innings and an ERA in the mid-3.00s should position him for a nice contract, especially considering the fact that half of his starts have come in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
  • Multiple teams have worked out Rafael Soriano, and while he’s on the Tigers‘ radar, there’s also been some contact with the Mariners. Heyman adds the Pirates, Indians and Dodgers as “logical suitors,” though I’d imagine the Pirates and Indians in particular would have some payroll constraints, depending on the asking price of agent Scott Boras.
  • Heyman echoes ESPN’s Buster Olney in speculating that the Dodgers could make a run at extending Howie Kendrick, noting that the Dodgers love Kendrick both on the field and in the clubhouse. He also notes that the Dodgers are impressed with Alex Guerrero‘s bat and may coming around on him as a passable option at third base or in left field, though the team is already well-stocked at each position.
  • The Pirates and Gregory Polanco may have come as close as about $1MM on agreeing to a seven-year contract, Heyman hears. The biggest holdup was over the three club options on the deal, which ranged from $11-13MM, and when the team would have been required to exercise them.
  • Though recent reports have indicated that John Lackey hopes the Cardinals will approach him about an extension, Heyman writes that it’s not a likely scenario. St. Louis likes its pitching depth and the young starters in line beyond those in the 2015 rotation.
  • The Orioles asked the Blue Jays for both of the team’s first round picks from the 2014 draft — right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — in exchange for the ability to hire EVP/general manager Dan Duquette as their new president, according to Heyman.