St. Louis Cardinals Rumors

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

Reaction To The Jhonny Peralta Signing

The Cardinals have reached agreement on a four-year contract with Jhonny Peralta worth $53MM. Here's the reaction to the signing from around baseball:

  • Peralta was asking interested teams for a five-year, $75MM deal, but accepted less from the Cardinals because he wanted to play in St. Louis, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets not many people predicted this kind of contract for Peralta and Stephen Drew should do better even though he's tied to draft pick compensation and is down a suitor.
  • Keith Law of ESPN.com writes in an Insider Only post (subscription required) the move could work out in the short term, but Peralta isn't the type of player he would want to commit to for four years. 
  • The Cardinals explored trade talks with the Diamondbacks and Angels before settling on Peralta, tweets USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
  • The Cardinals used their payroll flexibility to acquire Peralta and were going to have to overpay anyway to obtain a much-needed shortstop either financially in free agency or in prospects on the trade market, opines the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz
  • Within the same article, Miklasz offers six reasons why the Cardinals preferred Peralta over Drew.
  • The lack of draft pick compensation helped fueled Peralta's market, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Feinsand, in a second tweet, isn't surprised Peralta was able to net such a lucrative deal despite being suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis affair citing the two-year, $16MM pact the Blue Jays gave Melky Cabrera last offseason after his 50-game PED suspension in 2012.
  • Diamondbacks reliever (and union representative) Brad Ziegler was critical of rewarding a player suspended for PED use with such a contract. "It pays to cheat…Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use. People really don't understand how this works. We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it's not. So we are working on it again." (Twitter links)
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio wonders if the Cardinals will play Peralta at third base, keep Matt Carpenter at second base, and trade Kolten Wong for a better overall shortstop (via Twitter).
  • This type of free agent acquisition is not typical for the Cardinals, according to ESPN.com's Mark Simon.
  • Steven Goldman of SBNation.com compares the Cardinals' signing of Peralta with the Yankees' signing of Brian McCann: a massive upgrade on the incumbent over the short term with a hazier outlook over the long run.
  • On its face, Fangraphs' Eno Sarris sees this as a perfect signing for the Cardinals.

Latest On Carlos Beltran

As I just noted, today's acquisition of Peter Bourjos may make the Cardinals an even greater longshot to bring back star right fielder Carlos Beltran. Here are the latest rumblings on one of the game's all-time great post-season performers, who will turn 37 early next season:

  • Officials from two teams say that Beltran's representatives at MVP Sports Group have not asked for four years in early talks with prospective new employers, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. In his profile of Beltran, MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged his value at $30MM on a two-year deal.
  • Many clubs are interested in Beltran, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and the Royals could be a realistic landing spot. Beltran made his name in Kansas City, and Heyman suggests that the club could have added motivation given Beltran's history with the club. Indeed, he even raises the point that a Hall of Fame push at career's end could land Beltran in Cooperstown donning a KC cap. Having given four years to Jason Vargas, Heyman wonders whether the club would be willing to go past two seasons for its old star.
  • One major obstacle to that possibility could be payroll, as the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton questions whether GM Dayton Moore has already burned through the club's 2014 payroll allocation after promising Vargas $32MM. As Dutton explains, the decision to designate catcher George Kottaras for assignment could be an indication that money is tight. Kottaras seemed to be the club's best backup option, says Dutton. When he asked why he was chosen to be set loose, a "top club official responded by rubbing his thumb over the tips of his first two fingers," indicating that money was the issue. Kottaras is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a modest $1.2MM in his second go at arbitration, and Dutton notes that Moore has pegged current payroll projections at $87MM despite previously saying that the club would not go much past its 2013 tab of $85MM.
  • While Dutton tweets that the Royals are indeed interested in Beltran, he says that the slugger would need to spend some time at designated hitter for it to make sense. That, presumably in combination with his likely-sizeable salary, would mean that current DH Billy Butler would probably be put on the market in such a scenario.
  • Turning back to Heyman's report, he does not include St. Louis among the likely suitors at present. The Mariners and Rangers are in the mix, says Heyman, and the Indians may be as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox definitely have interest but seem unwilling to go past two years.
  • Yet another team that could make sense as a landing spot for Beltran is the Tigers, who Jamie Samuelsen of the Detroit Free Press says is the best target for a Detroit outfield upgrade. Certainly, a play by GM Dave Dombrowski for Beltran's services would be a boon to the outfielder's free agent prospects.

NL Central Notes: Aybar, Peralta, Beltran, Brewers

We just wrapped up the early reactions to today's biggest news out of the National League Central, but there are some other notes from the division that are worth a look:

  • Though the Cardinals talked about acquiring Erick Aybar along with David Freese, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports via Twitter, that does not mean that a second deal is on the horizon. To the contrary, Goold says that the Cards do not expect to continue discussions about bringing Aybar in from the Angels, having realized that the Halos will demand a live, young arm even if Aybar's $25.5MM remaining salary is absorbed by a trade partner.
  • A rival executive believes that St. Louis is in on Jhonny Peralta, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, and the Freese trade makes sense in that respect. That being said, Morosi says in another tweet that he has not heard whether St. Louis would go to four years for Peralta. 
  • Meanwhile, one must wonder whether the addition of Bourjos takes the Cardinals completely out of the running to sign another of the club's recent post-season heroes: Carlos Beltran. This is my speculation, but with top prospect Oscar Taveras knocking on the door, Allen Craig warranting time in right field to give Matt Adams at-bats at first, and Jon Jay still in the fold, a return for Beltran might require another trade to make sense at this point.
  • Another trade went down today from the division, with the Brewers shipping out reliever Burke Badenhop to the Red Sox in exchange for 20-year-old lefty Luis Ortega. Baseball America breaks down the players involved, explaining that Ortega is a longshot to make the bigs and profiles as a reliever. The Brew Crew will shed an estimated $2.1MM arbitration salary in the deal, however.
  • After shedding Badenhop from the pen, Milwaukee is not hot on the trail of any new relievers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. As MLBTR's Ed Creech explained in his offseason outlook for the Brewers, the team's pen was hardly the problem last year, and seems to be in good shape save the possible addition of another veteran.


Cardinals, Angels Swap Freese For Bourjos In Four-Player Deal

The Angels and Cardinals have officially announced a trade that will send center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando SalasBourjos-Peter

Bourjos (pictured) turns 27 at the end of Spring Training and is a defensive wizard in center field that owns a career .251/.306/.398 batting line. He slashed .274/.333/.377 in an injury-shortened season after being hit by a pitch on the wrist and requiring surgery. He also posted an impressive .271/.327/.438 batting line with 12 homers and 22 steals in 2011, showing off that he's capable of being a plus offensive player in a full season as well. The speedster has a career 20.2 UZR/150 rating in more than 2,600 innings in center field. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.1MM salary for Bourjos in 2014.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game. Swartz projects Freese to earn $4.4MM in 2014.

Grichuk, 22, was just added to the Halos' 40-man roster this week to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Angels selected Grichuk 24th overall in the 2009 draft — their first of two consecutive picks. The second pick netted superstar Mike Trout. He ranks as Anaheim' No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who calls Grichuk "a solid defensive outfielder with a strong arm and still has the chance to be a good run-producing corner outfielder," noting that he's overcome injury issues that plagued him early in his career. Grichuk entered the season as the Angels' No. 6 prospect, per Baseball America, and BA's JJ Cooper tweets that he'd likely have ranked second on the upcoming 2014 version of the list. He's more likely to rank 10th on the Cardinals' list, adds Cooper.

Salas, 28, was solid in the first two seasons of his career with St. Louis but has struggled a bit more in 2012-13, posting a 4.36 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 86 2/3 innings. He's been a bit unfortunate in terms of balls in play and strand rate in the past two seasons, leading FIP to peg him at 3.60 in that same span. Swartz projects a $700K salary for Salas in 2014, as he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.

The Angels had a clear need at third base after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's last July, and the Cardinals were in the market for a defensive upgrade from Jon Jay, whose center field defense has graded out as a negative over the course of his career. In that sense, the two sides line up well for a trade, though Freese comes with just two years of team control compared to Bourjos' three.

All told, the Angels are dealing three years of Bourjos and one of their top prospects for two years of Freese and three years of Salas in addition to agreeing to take on roughly $4MM in additional salary in the 2014 season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Bourjos was headed to the Cardinals (on Twitter). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez confirmed that the Angels would receive Freese in return. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported (via Twitter) that other players were involved, and the Angels would get Salas in the deal (Twitter link). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was the first to report Grichuk's involvement (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cardinals, Jhonny Peralta Close To Deal

SATURDAY, 10:19pm: The Cardinals are close to a deal with Jhonny Peralta, a source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter link).  Peralta is expected to receive four years in the deal, a source tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). However, the Cardinals have yet to confirm that an agreement is in place, Morosi adds in a second tweet.

Peralta, 31, is coming off a solid .303/.358/.457 season but his value took a hit thanks to his 50-game suspension for involvement with the Biogenesis PED scandal.  For the Cardinals, Peralta represents a very significant offensive upgrade over shortstop Pete Kozma, even if he looks more like his 2012 self (.239/.305/.384) than ’13.  

A report late last week indicated that Peralta was seeking a four-year pact in the $56-75MM range.  Meanwhile, three GMs told Peter Gammons that Peralta’s reps were hinting to teams that they had a four-year, $52MM offer in hand.  This weekend, that team has been told that they’re “not even in [the] game,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).

For his career, Peralta owns a .268/.330/.425 slash line over eleven seasons with the Indians and Tigers.  The veteran’s -0.4 career UZR/150 isn’t terribly impressive, but the metric shows that he has been playing much better defense at the shortstop position over the last three seasons.

Peralta is represented by SFX, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Texas Trade Notes: Moreland, Cardinals, Fielder

Mitch Moreland has "no idea" where he might end up or what his role will be now that the Rangers have acquired Prince Fielder and cash in exchange for Ian Kinsler, the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant writes. "I’m just a player," Moreland says. "To be honest, I haven’t thought about my situation much. Come spring, I will be ready to play, whether it is here in Texas or somewhere else." Even with Fielder in the fold, the Rangers could find plenty of at-bats for Moreland, both at DH and in the outfield. A trade might also be a possibility. Here are more notes on the deal.


Angels, Cardinals Have Discussed David Freese Trade

12:12pm: Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals are prioritizing outfield depth in their trade talks, and the two sides have not discussed shortstop Erick Aybar or the Cardinals' top young pitchers. The two sides are still in the "discussion phase," according to Rosenthal (Twitter links).

The Angels do have quite a bit of outfield depth, and names like Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun could all make sense for the Cardinals. Of course, Mike Trout is unavailable.

9:43am: The Angels and Cardinals have had discussions about a trade that would send David Freese to the Angels, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

The Angels have been primarily focused on acquiring pitching this offseason, but they have a need at third base as well after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's this July. Of course, it's possible that Anaheim GM Jerry Dipoto could try to convince the Cardinals to part with some of their young arms in the deal as well, though that's just my own speculation at this point.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game.


Astros Claim Ryan Jackson, Outright J.D. Martinez

The Astros announced that they have claimed shortstop Ryan Jackson off aivers from the Cardinals and outrighted outfielder J.D. Martinez to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Jackson, 25, went hitless in seven plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2013 and is just 2-for-24 in his brief big league career to date. However, he's posted a much stronger .275/.343/.371 batting line in 1,013 career plate appearances at Triple-A and is capable of playing second base and third base as well. It's hardly a surprise to see the Astros claim him, as GM Jeff Luhnow likely played an integral role in selecting Jackson in the fifth round of the 2009 draft when he served as the Cardinals' VP of scouting and player development.

The 26-year-old Martinez owns a career .251/.300/.387 slash line with 24 homers in 975 plate appearances. He hit the DL on two separate occasions in 2013 — once for a sprained wrist and once for a sprained knee.


Chris Carpenter Retires

Chris Carpenter has told the Cardinals that he is officially retiring, general manager John Mozeliak revealed at today's press conference to announce manager Mike Matheny's three-year extension (Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting on Twitter).

Carpenter attempted a comeback this season but was unable to make it back to a big league mound. The 38-year-old didn't pitch in 2013 and managed just 17 innings in 2012 after a strong 2011 campaign that saw him lead the NL in starts and innings pitched.

Injuries to Carpenter shortened what could have been one of the most impressive careers of a generation, but few were better than Carpenter when he was healthy. From 2004-11, Carpenter posted a 3.06 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 1,331 2/3 innings. He took home the National League Cy Young Award in 2005 and finished in the Top 3 on two other occasions.

Carpenter's career will conclude with a 144-94 record, 3.76 ERA, 33 complete games, 15 shutouts and 1,697 strikeouts in 2,219 1/3 innings between the Blue Jays and Cardinals. Baseball-Reference pegs his career at 35.5 wins above replacement, and Fangraphs likes him for 38.9 WAR. Carpenter earned $98.5MM in his career, according to Baseball-Reference. The Cardinals are said to be discussing a new role in the organization with Carpenter, so St. Louis fans will likely continue to see his name in the news. Best of luck in life after pitching, Chris.


Cardinals Extend Mike Matheny

The Cardinals have signed manager Mike Matheny to a three-year extension that will run through the 2017 season, the team announced on Twitter.

The past two seasons as the Cardinals' skipper are the only two seasons of managerial experience Matheny has at the big league level, but it's hard to argue with the results. Matheny's Redbirds have turned in a 185-139 record. They reached the National League Championship Series in his first season as manager and made it to Game 6 of the World Series this season, ultimately being defeated by the Red Sox.

Matheny's initial contract ran through the 2013 season and contained a club option for 2014, which the team exercised this past February.