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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
Cuban catcher Lednier Ricardo recently held a workout in the Dominican Republic, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted recently. MLBTR has learned additional details on the 25-year-old, who has been cleared to sign as a free agent and will not be subject to international spending limits. About a dozen teams were represented at the showcase, including the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Astros, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Athletics, and Reds. Public information is scarce on Ricardo, who has seen limited time with the Cuban national team and has maintained an OPS in the .730 range in recent years in Serie Nacional action. The backstop will look to impress scouts enough to earn a significant bonus to come stateside.
Here’s the latest out of the American League:
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides a few notes on the Red Sox, via Twitter, that could impact the team’s trade deadline plans. The club prefers to keep Koji Uehara for the 2015 campaign, he says, though of course the closer is slated to hit the open market. Meanwhile, the team would prefer to keep Xander Bogaerts at third for the present, but could nevertheless be open to dealing Stephen Drew if he can show some kind of turnaround at the plate.
- The Royals are “looking hard” at options to bolster their pen, Cafardo further reports (Twitter link). Though the Kansas City pen ranks third in the game in accumulated fWAR, much of that has come from top options Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera. And the relief corps rates just 19th in cumulative ERA (3.68). Among the Royals’ remaining active relievers, Aaron Crow and Francisley Bueno have outperformed their peripherals, Louis Coleman has struggled by any measure, and Scott Downs was knocked around yesterday after three quality outings to start his tenure with his second club of the season.
- The Rays will listen on catcher Jose Molina, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Olney wonders whether the Cardinals would consider looking into the older brother of the injured Yadier Molina. It is worth bearing in mind, of course, the elder Molina is under contract for next season at $2.75MM.
- With few intriguing bats available, the Mariners should go all in by pursuing Rays ace David Price, argues Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Seattle should be able to fit Price’s salary this year and next, says Rosenthal, and the surely steep price in terms of prospects would be worth it to a club that could seize an opportunity to make a postseason run.
The Cardinals have designated outfielder Mike O’Neill for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Presumably, the move was made to clear roster space for the recently-claimed George Kottaras.
O’Neill, 26, was added to the 40-man before the season started to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He has yet to see MLB action, and has only 163 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level, where he owns a .297/.401/.341 line. Across 796 Double-A plate appearances over the last several years. O’Neill has slashed .306/.407/.382.
Needless to say, his calling card is on-base ability; last season, he reached 91 times via walk while striking out just 37 times. That prompted Baseball America’s Ben Badler to tweet that O’Neill had the best eye in the minors.
It’s not surprising to see St. Louis pursuing catching depth after yesterday’s news that Yadier Molina will miss the next eight to 12 weeks in order to have a torn ligament in his thumb surgically repaired. The 31-year-old Kottaras has long been known to have an excellent eye at the plate and some power. The career .216/.326/.415 hitter has 14 percent walk rate in 847 Major League plate appearances, and his .199 isolated power mark (slugging minus batting average) is well above-average for any hitter, let alone a catcher.
This, of course, doesn’t preclude the Cardinals from pursuing further upgrades behind the dish as the summer wears on. For the time being, however, he should be able to provide a solid OBP if the Redbirds prefer him to one of Tony Cruz or Audry Perez, neither of whom offers much with the bat.
Catcher Yadier Molina of the Cardinals has suffered a torn thumb ligament, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is expected to miss eight to twelve weeks, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
Molina, a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, has been off his usual pace at the plate but is still one of the game’s most productive catchers. He owns a .287/.341/.409 triple-slash on the year, after averaging a .842 OPS over his last three campaigns. Also regarded as one of (if not the) best defensive backstops and staff managers in baseball, Molina is essentially irreplaceable.
In the immediate term, the Cards will call up minor leaguer Audry Perez to fill Molina’s roster spot, tweets ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden. But it would be more than a stretch to suggest that Perez, along with seldom-used backup Tony Cruz, can match Molina’s production and presence for the club.
Certainly, the loss of Molina would appear to position St. Louis as a possible buyer behind the plate. The club will take its time finding a fill-in reports Goold (via Twitter). The club does not feel it needs to make a move before the All-Star game.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently took a look at a relatively barren catching market. Of course, the recently-designated A.J. Pierzynski is also fully available, though ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that he gets the sense that Pierzynski is not a top option for St. Louis. Another possibility, Crasnick suggests on Twitter (and Goold also notes the team will consider), is veteran John Buck, who was recently designated by the Mariners. And ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden opines on Twitter that Kurt Suzuki of the Twins — twice traded to contenders in the last two years and playing on a cheap, one-year deal — could make the most sense as a target.
TODAY, 10:19am: The Braves are not interested in adding Peavy, sources tell David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
10:07am: While Peavy remains the pitcher that the club is most interested in dealing, Boston has fielded strong interest in fellow starter John Lackey, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. That is not terribly surprising: since the start of last year, Lackey has logged 306 2/3 innings of 3.64 ERA ball with 7.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. And he is under contract for the league minimum for 2015.
YESTERDAY, 10:12pm: Peavy said that he has spoken with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and understands that there is a possibility he will be dealt, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Don’t think people are making stuff up,” he said.
6:31pm: Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that the team believes it would need to give up one of its own starters to get a “top starter” in return, resulting in a net loss of years of control, tweets Goold.
6:06pm: The Cardinals are “looking for offense not Peavy” right now, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Goold says there is no match with Boston, given that Joe Kelly is expected to return to the rotation in short order.
5:52pm: Boston is discussing starting pitching — not just Peavy — with many teams, but there is “nothing imminent,” a team source tells Abraham (Twitter link).
4:20pm: The Braves are also involved in talks regarding Peavy, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.
4:16pm: The Cards and Red Sox are in active trade talks regarding Peavy, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
12:45pm: ESPN’s Jayson Stark is now also hearing that the Cardinals are interested in Peavy, and he hears that something could come together quickly (Twitter link). The only Red Sox game that the Cards have scouted was the Peavy start that Edes originally referenced, according to Stark.
12:01pm: The Cardinals have had their share of pitching injuries of late, with Jaime Garcia out for the season and Michael Wacha out indefinitely, and Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweeted yesterday that the team scouted Jake Peavy‘s most recent start for the Red Sox. Peter Gammons also tweets that he’s hearing the Redbirds have interest in Peavy.
The 33-year-old Peavy has struggled, to an extent, this season in what has been one of the least-effective campaigns of his 13-year career. He’s posted a 4.64 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate. His 89.9 mph average fastball velocity is the lowest mark he’s posted since his rookie campaign in 2002. He’s been healthy, however, and has averaged more than six innings per start this season. A move to the NL, of course, could help his numbers as well.
Then again, Peavy wouldn’t need to do much to be an upgrade to the back of the St. Louis rotation. With their current injuries, the Cardinals are using a rotation of ace Adam Wainwright and right-handers Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez (with Joe Kelly set to come off the DL in the next few days). Miller has seen his control disappear, along with his ability to miss bats, and he’s posted a 5.50 ERA over his past nine starts as a result. Martinez has pitched well since transitioning from the bullpen, but he threw just 108 innings last year and is already at 53 in 2014. Marco Gonzales, the club’s 2013 first-rounder, served up 11 runs with more walks than strikeouts in a three-start cameo recently. Peavy could serve as a durable back-end piece to complement veterans Wainwright, Lynn and Kelly while serving as an insurance policy for the club’s younger arms.
Peavy is earning $14.5MM this season and has a vesting player option that he won’t trigger. That option, valued at $15MM, required that Peavy pitch 400 innings from 2013-14, but he is still 144 2/3 frames shy of that mark after spending time on the DL last season. As such, he’s owed roughly $6.58MM over the remainder of the 2014 campaign and will be a free agent at year’s end.
As Edes points out, this isn’t the first time that the Cardinals have had interest in Peavy. The team expressed interest in the former NL Cy Young winner last summer. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported over the weekend that Peavy could be of interest to some NL clubs if Boston were to eat some of the remaining salary on his deal.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ask for a trade this offseason. One friend of Tulo told Rosenthal, “I think the guy is going to lose his mind,” due to Colorado’s consistently poor results. He adds that this offseason will be a better time to deal Tulo or Carlos Gonzalez (with an eye on a larger rebuild), and while owner Dick Monfort may prefer to move CarGo, plenty of teams would make sense as a landing spot for Tulowitzki.
Here are some more highlights from Rosenthal’s newest work…
- One reason that Tulo could be particularly frustrated is with the Rockies‘ inability to build a competitive pitching staff at Coors Field. That’s no easy task, as Rosenthal notes, but it isn’t helped by the fact that free-agent pitchers simply don’t want to go there. While Jon Gray and Eddie Butler are promising, Butler joins a long list of currently injured Rockies starters. Additionally, rival scouts opined to Rosenthal that Colorado pitchers are poorly prepared: “They pitch not to hitters’ weaknesses but hitters strengths,” one scout told Rosenthal.
- The Dodgers talked with the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija before he was dealt to Oakland, but talks never got serious, as Los Angeles didn’t want to part with Joc Pederson or Corey Seager.
- Speaking of the Samardzija trade, Rosenthal hears that the deal was almost larger, as the Athletics at one point were trying to get Chicago to include Luis Valbuena in the deal as well. The A’s like Valbuena as a potential second-base upgrade and could rekindle talks for him later this month, but Chicago is reluctant to deal him, as he’s controlled through 2016, according to Rosenthal.
- The Cubs are receiving interest in lefty relievers James Russell and Wesley Wright, both of whom are more likely to be traded than Valbuena.
- Multiple reports today have indicated that the Cardinals have interest in Jake Peavy of the Red Sox, and Rosenthal reports that the two sides spoke a month ago, though not necessarily about Peavy. Boston has interest in the Cardinals’ young outfielders, and while St. Louis won’t deal Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for Peavy, the teams could expand the deal to include other players and make something work. Rosenthal floats the idea of a scenario in which Allen Craig heads to Boston, though that appears to be speculation.
- In other Red Sox rumors, he writes that the Sox don’t necessarily want to move free agents they would like to re-sign after the season even if they end up as sellers. In other words, Jon Lester and Koji Uehara may stay put regardless of the team’s approach. Beyond that, the team’s chips are largely underwhelming, as Jonny Gomes, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew and A.J. Pierzynski either don’t have huge appeal to buyers or would net marginal returns at best.
The consensus around baseball this season has been that the Rays are extremely reluctant to trade ace David Price within the AL East. That may still be true, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that they’re still at least open to the idea of moving Price within the division.
An intra-division deal might call for a premium price, but today’s report is still good news for the Blue Jays, who would no doubt love to bring Price north of the border. The Blue Jays can’t bank on Mark Buehrle duplicating his strong first half and they’ve fallen out of first place. If Toronto is willing to part with two of their top three prospects - Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey – they could come away with the most alluring pitcher on the trade market.
In addition to the Blue Jays, Morosi cites the Mariners, Dodgers, and Cardinals as possible landing spots for Price. It’s hard to see Seattle landing Price without parting with Taijuan Walker, but they might be aggressive enough to move the 21-year-old to get Price. The Dodgers, of course, are always aggressive and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports surmised yesterday that they could be extra bullish on Price because of their TV situation.
The Independence Day trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics is definitely the top story of the day. When we polled MLBTR readers last week over which pitcher would be traded first, Hammel was the resounding top choice with 31.05% of readers picking the right-hander. Samardzija came in third with 16.19% of the vote. David Price (24.07%) was the only other pitcher to finish with over 10% of the vote, and it very well could have been Price headed to Oakland. Let’s focus our attention on some of the other rumors and notes of the day.
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports the Tigers are interested in re-acquiring Joaquin Benoit (via Twitter). Of course, Benoit is in the midst of a fantastic season with the Padres. He’s pitched to a 1.26 ERA with 10.09 K/9 and 1.77 BB/9.
- The Angels are also interested in Benoit according to Morosi (Twitter). It’s unclear if that interest remains after the acquisitions of Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher.
- Morosi (also on Twitter) notes that the Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Giants are interested in Diamondbacks infielders. Veterans Aaron Hill and Martin Prado have been frequently connected to rumors, although the club does have additional shortstop depth too.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that the Twins are expected to make Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia available barring a sudden turnaround. Both players will be free agents after the season and aren’t good candidates for a qualifying offer. Willingham has been productive when healthy including a .228/.377/.441 batting line in 162 plate appearances this season. Heyman mentions the Red Sox and Mariners as two clubs in need of offense. To me, Correia looks more like a roster patch for a contender with his 4.95 ERA and 4.11 FIP.
- The Marlins made a club record number of moves in June writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. A total of 45 transactions were made in June. The previous one-month record was 30 moves. July could bring more of the same for the Fish with Tom Koehler and Adeiny Hechavarria scheduled to return soon.
- Oft-injured Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia will undergo season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome according to Derrick Goold and Joe Trezza of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The club wasn’t counting on a return by Garcia, who has been on the disabled list since late June. The news provides additional incentive for the club to explore the trade market.
After covering some Cubs Notes earlier today, let’s take a look around the rest of the NL Central…
- The Blue Jays haven’t shown any interest in Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks since they’re looking to land a better defender at the keystone, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. (Similar defensive concerns were also the reason for Toronto’s lack of interest in Daniel Murphy, as Heyman reported over the weekend.) Weeks is hitting .263/.344/.463 in 90 PA against left-handed pitching this season, and would make sense on paper for a Jays team that is need of both second base help and a right-handed bat.
- The Cardinals are open to acquiring a second or third baseman and have also considered adding a “complement upgrade” for their lineup, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Padres outfielder Seth Smith is cited by Goold as an example of the type of complementary player the Cards are discussing, though Smith himself isn’t necessarily being targeted by the team. If the Cardinals do add a 2B or 3B, Matt Carpenter would play the other position.
- The Pirates‘ trade for Ike Davis is over two months old, and Tim Rohan of the New York Times checks in to see how both the Bucs and Mets have progressed since the deal. The Mets have been very pleased by how Lucas Duda is hitting as the new regular first baseman, and while Davis hasn’t been hitting quite as well (.250/.359/.364 in 217 PA as a Pirate), he mentioned in a recent WFAN interview that he enjoys playing for a team that expects to contend.
Dealing David Price is the Rays‘ “only chance for success,” executive Andrew Friedman tells the New York Times. He doesn’t seem to be saying that the Rays are duty-bound to trade Price, only that dealing valuable players is a crucial way for the Rays to add talent. “The trades that we’ve made, looking back, the only reason we got good players in return is because we traded really good players,” says Friedman. Nonetheless, Friedman is frustrated with the trade market — he needs to acquire young players for the Rays to succeed, and yet the market isn’t favorable to teams acquiring prospects. “The attrition rate and the hit rate isn’t factored in nearly enough or appreciated enough,” he says. “But it’s really our only chance for success.” Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Rival executives think the Rays won’t trade Price until close to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, writes CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The Rays’ front office likes to be deliberative in its decisions. There is consensus, though, that the Rays will trade Price this summer, since the Rays’ season has gone poorly, Price has lots of value now, and he’ll have a hefty salary in 2015.
- The Cardinals are unlikely to trade, and should not trade, Oscar Taveras, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With pitchers dominant in today’s game, offense is at a premium, and Taveras’ bat is too good not to keep, particularly for a veteran who might only be around for one or two seasons.
- Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy is bracing for a possible trade, FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder writes. “It certainly seems likely, but if I am still here at the end of September, then great,” says McCarthy. “Right now as a Diamondback, sometimes your best value is your future value and what they can get for you. I totally understand that side of the game.”