St. Louis Cardinals Rumors

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

Cafardo On Price, Cardinals, Hamels, Benoit

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester.   Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market.  Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far.  “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo.   Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
  • The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels.  The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
  • Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
  • Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source.  Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.

Minor Moves: Pena, Torrealba, Volstad, Berg, Enright, Gimenez, Wells, Fellhauer

It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …

  • First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
  • Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
  • The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
  • Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
  • The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
  • The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
  • Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
  • The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.

NL Central Notes: Starlin, Baez, Brewers, Cards, Price

The Cubs are receiving some trade interest in Starlin Castro but don’t expect to trade him this month, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1. That lines up with a tweet from Newsday’s David Lennon earlier this week, when Lennon noted that Castro isn’t expected to be dealt in 2015, and the Cubs may slide him over to third base in 2015. That would be a surprise, given the organization’s wealth of third base prospects, although such a move would clear a spot for Javier Baez.

Here’s more on the Cubs and the NL Central…

  • For what it’s worth, Baez made his first professional appearance at second base in last night’s Triple-A contest, as first noted by Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register last night (on Twitter). Getting Baez some looks at second base could also clear a path for him, though the Cubs have been wowed by the early returns on fellow top prospect Arismendy Alcantara. Suffice it to say, the Cubs’ infield depth is flat out enviable.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke to reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, and discussed the trade deadline. Melvin noted that he will have his ears open, but he isn’t fixated on the idea that making an acquisition is necessary for his team to reach the postseason. He cited a lack of availability of quality first basemen and the eventual returns of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson when asked about perceived needs in the ‘pen and at first. Said Melvin: “If you can add, you add. But I like our team.”
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was a guest on the Baseball Tonight podcast with Buster Olney today and discussed the Cardinals second-half needs. While he says the absence of Yadier Molina should be the team’s biggest issue, a quieter concern is how many innings they get from the rotation. Of the team’s current starters, only Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright have shown the ability to pitch deep into games. Cardinals starters other than Lynn and Wainwright have averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start.
  • Goold also says the Cardinals know that at some point, they have to make some kind of move to address their outfield surplus. Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, James Ramsey and Oscar Taveras are all potential long-term pieces, and the team also has Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Allen Craig as center field/right field options. Dangling Grichuk, Piscotty, Ramsey and Taveras will get them in the conversation for a number of pitchers, he adds.
  • Goold thinks the Cardinals would be willing to at least discuss the possibility of sending Taveras to Tampa in a Price trade (though he doesn’t mention specific confirmation of that fact), but such a deal might be contingent on St. Louis securing an extension with Price. Talks between the two sides would be interesting, Goold notes, because the sides value players and value team control so similarly. Olney speculates that Price would be open to an extension with the Cards, noting the proximity of St. Louis to Price’s native Nashville.


Bowden On Price, Hamels, Byrd, Angels, A’s, Reds, More

ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:

  • The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
  • One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
  • Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
  • The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
  • The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
  • Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.

Minor Moves: Alderson, O’Neill, Wang, Miller, Wolf

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Orioles have released pitcher Tim Alderson, David Hall of the Virginian Pilot tweets. The Giants traded Alderson, a 2007 first-round pick and former top prospect, to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, and the Bucs traded him to the Orioles for Russ Canzler last year. In 50 innings for Triple-A Norfolk this season, Alderson had a 6.12 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
  • The Cardinals have outrighted outfielder Mike O’Neill after designating him for assignment Friday, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. O’Neill, 26, has hit .258/.343/.341 in 320 plate appearances this season for Double-A Springfield.
  • Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has opted out of his deal with the Reds, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay tweets. Wang pitched 119 1/3 innings for Triple-A Louisville, posting a 3.70 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. He last appeared in the big leagues last season with the Blue Jays.
  • The Yankees have announced they have outrighted right-hander Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Miller was designated for assignment Friday. 
  • Randy Wolf has cleared out his locker and has left the Orioles‘ Triple-A team, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted Wolf opted out of his contract. The 37-year-old appeared in six games for Norfolk, including one start, and posted a 4.20 ERA with a 12-to-5 K-BB ratio in 15 innings.
  • Blue Jays right-hander Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, the club announced (hat tip to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith).  Korecky was designated for assignment on Friday.  The righty posted an 8.10 ERA over 3 1/3 relief innings for Toronto this season in his first taste of Major League action since a one-game cup of coffee in 2012.
  • The White Sox have released right-hander Henry Rodriguez, the team announced.  Rodriguez just recently signed a minor league deal with the Sox but posted a 21.60 ERA, three strikeouts and a whopping eight walks over 1 2/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.  That lack of control has been the story of Rodriguez’s career, as the righty has recorded a 6.4 BB/9 over 150 1/3 Major League innings with the Marlins, Cubs, Nationals and A’s over six seasons in the Show, though his high-90’s fastball has helped him record 151 strikeouts.  This is the second time Rodriguez has been released this season, as the Marlins already cut ties with him in June.

Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


AL Notes: Ricardo, Red Sox, Royals, Molina, Mariners

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.

Cardinals Designate Mike O’Neill For Assignment

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.


Cardinals Claim George Kottaras

The Cardinals have claimed catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Kottaras was recently designated for assignment by Cleveland.

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.


Yadier Molina Out Eight To Twelve Weeks With Torn Thumb Ligament

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.


Latest On Trade Talks Involving Red Sox Starting Pitchers

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.