St. Louis Cardinals Rumors

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

Draft Signings: Andrew Morales, Trevor Megill

Here are the day’s draft signings, with slot info courtesy of Baseball America …

  • The Cardinals have agreed to terms with compensation round B pick Andrew Morales, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The senior righty out of UC-Irvine was taken 71st overall pick, which carried a $796.1K allocation. Morales will earn a $546.1K bonus, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com, meaning that the Cards will end up with exactly $250K in savings on the pick.
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinals learned that they will not land third-round pick Trevor Megill, who instead will finish his college career, reports MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. That takes his $504.4K bonus value out of play for St. Louis, though the club will gain another pick in next year’s draft (immediately following the third round).

Draft Notes: Rodon, Kolek, Conforto, Megill

After the Reds’ agreement with Alex Blandino yesterday, 25 of this year’s 34 first-round picks have signed or at least agreed to terms on their signing bonus. Here are some of the latest draft-related (non-signing) news items from around the league…

  • As noted by Baseball America earlier this week, the White Sox have $6.58MM that they can spend on top pick Carlos Rodon without losing future draft picks (Twitter link). Chicago’s situation with Rodon is somewhat similar to the one the Mariners faced with Alex Jackson, with whom they agreed to terms earlier this week. Both Rodon and Jackson are advised by Scott Boras, and both teams signed picks 2-10 prior to dealing with their first-rounder. Because picks beyond the 10th round don’t count against a team’s bonus pool (unless a team gives a bonus of more than $100K in rounds 11-40), that basically places a firm limit on what type of bonus they can offer. If anything, Jackson may have had more leverage as a high school player. MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently noted that he fully expects Chicago to sign Rodon, though he added that the Sox haven’t inked a notable Boras draftee since Alex Fernandez back in 1990 (Twitter links).
  • MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the Marlins considered Tyler Kolek the top player in this year’s draft, even over No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Had Miami selected first overall, they’d still have taken Kolek, Frisaro reports. Had Houston taken Kolek, however, Aiken was No. 2 on their board.
  • While the Mets and top pick Michael Conforto are in agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $2.987MM, as reported earlier in the week, there does appear to be a bit of work left to do before the deal becomes official, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It isn’t clear exactly what the holdup is at this time, he adds, stating that it could be an issue of language within the contract. Whatever the issue, his signing bonus doesn’t appear to be a factor anymore.
  • Cardinals third-rounder Trevor Megill has decided to return to college for his senior season rather than sign with St. Louis, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Megill’s draft stock plummeted after he required Tommy John prior to his junior season at Loyola Marymount. MLB.com’s Jen Langosch noted recently that Megill would likely require an over-slot bonus or would return for his senior year.

Cardinals Reach Agreeements With Top Three Picks

JUNE 16: Weaver has officially signed and received the full slot value of $1.843MM, reports Jen Langosch of MLB.com (on Twitter). He will report to the Cardinals’ Gulf Coast League affiliate on Wednesday of this week.

JUNE 10: In an update late last night, Goold reported that the Cardinals do indeed have agreements with Flaherty, Weaver and Williams. Flaherty is expected to receive around $2MM, reports Goold, which is well north of his pick’s value of $1.65MM. Weaver and Williams are both expected to command slot money, he adds, which would come out to respective bonuses of $1.843MM and $834K.

JUNE 9: The Cardinals are nearing deals with their top three picks, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Specifically, he notes that the Cardinals are nearing an over-slot deal with No. 34 overall pick Jack Flaherty. No deals will be announced until the completion of physicals, Goold adds.

In addition to Flaherty, St. Louis drafted Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver with the No. 27 overall pick in the draft and prep right-hander Ronnie Williams with the No. 68 overall selection the draft.

Flaherty, another high school right-hander, was committed to North Carolina and was thought to be a difficult sign, so it’s not entirely surprising to see that he’s nearing an over-slot deal. Baseball America ranked him 39th among draft prospects and noted that he was a third base prospect just one year ago before impressing scouts on the mound in 2014 and generating some potential late first round buzz. He’s touched 93 mph with his heater and has a changeup that has a chance to be a plus-plus pitch, while his slider could also be a plus offering that generates swings and misses, according to BA.



NL Notes: Toussaint, Phils, Pirates, Billingsley, Cards, Marlins, Nats

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert“Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
  • Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
  • The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
  • Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
  • The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.

Draft Signings: Cederoth, Gonzalez, Abbott

Here are today’s notable mid- to late-round draft signings from around the league, with all slot info coming courtesy of Baseball America

  • The Twins have reached agreement with third-rounder Michael Cederoth on an at-slot, $703.9K bonus, reports John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter). Though he profiles as a bullpen arm, Cederoth landed at 45th on BA’s list of the top 500 prospects and 59th on the rankings of MLB.com. Minnesota will surely hope to install him in its major league pen sooner rather than later.
  • Orioles third-round pick Brian Gonzalez, whose signing was announced yesterday, will get a $700K bonus, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com. That is $105.8K higher than the allocation for the 90th overall choice.
  • The Angels have gone above slot to sign their x-round choice, Alex Abbott, tweets Manuel. He gets a $375K bonus, a decent bump over the 179th slot’s $244.7K assigned value.

Earlier Updates

  • The Twins and fourth-rounder Sam Clay have agreed to a $400K bonus that will save Minnesota about $76K, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). Clay, a Georgia Tech left-hander, has run his fastball up to 95 mph at times and shows a hard slider when at his best, Callis adds.
  • Callis reports (Twitter links) that the Mets have signed third-rounder Eudor Garcia for $305K — a savings of nearly $150K considering his slot value of $453,600. BA ranked the JuCo third baseman 160th on its Top 500. Overall, Callis notes, the team saved $517K on rounds 3-10, which allowed them to sign 13th-rounder Erik Manoah for $300K.
  • Callis also tweets that the Rockies and third-rounder Sam Howard have agreed to the full slot value of $672,100. The left-hander out of Georgia Southern has a three-pitch mix and was ranked 122nd by BA and 158th by MLB.com
  • Fourth-round pick Jeff Brigham has agreed to terms with the Dodgers, reports Callis (via Twitter). The Washington right-hander, whose sinking fastball has touched 96 mph, receives the full slot value of $396,300. BA ranked him 198th on their Top 500.
  • The Cardinals have agreed to sign fourth-rounder Austin Gomber for the full slot value of $374,100, reports BA’s John Manuel (on Twitter). Gomber, a lefty out of Florida Atlantic University, ranked 82nd on BA’s Top 500 list and 100th on MLB.com’s Top 200 prior to the draft.
  • Also note that Baseball America’s comprehensive Draft Database allows you to track the progress of your team’s signings and includes info on lower picks and smaller bonuses that aren’t noted here at MLBTR (players listed in bold font on the BA database have signed, and filters to search by round/team or exclude unsigned players are available on the right-hand sidebar).

Rosenthal’s Latest: Gonzalez, Chacin, Singleton, Cards, Span

In his latest Notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines that the Rockies shouldn’t be buyers at this summer’s trade deadline. While the club could make a Wild Card run, he writes that the team isn’t a serious World Series contender. Rosenthal feels that the club should look to move Jhoulys Chacin — who could be a non-tender candidate this offseason — to clear room for one of its top pitching prospects (likely either Jon Gray or Eddie Butler). The bigger, and certainly bolder move posited by Rosenthal is to deal Carlos Gonzalez in order to clear room for everyday at-bats for Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon. With Kyle Parker and a number of other outfield prospects on the horizon, plus Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs as reserve options, the team has plenty of outfield depth. Gonzalez is also owed $53MM following this season. Rosenthal notes that ownership has never shown an inclination to move Gonzalez, however, so the Rockies likely don’t share his point of view on the future of their star outfielder.

More from his latest piece…

  • Most agents with whom Rosenthal has spoken feel that Jon Singleton sold himself short by agreeing to a five-year, $10MM contract extension that could reach $30MM with three club options and $35MM if he hits enough performance bonuses. First base prospects are among the safest variety of prospects, and while some bust, Singleton will earn scarcely more than the current MLB average salary, over the life of his deal on an annual basis (assuming all options are exercised).
  • Rosenthal feels that the Cardinals should look to add a big-name starting pitcher such as James Shields or David Price at the deadline (should either become available, which is no guarantee, of course). While pitching certainly isn’t a need for the Redbirds, it’s not exactly clear where they’d place another bat upon acquiring one. And, given the team’s wealth of prospects at multiple positions, they could move valuable assets that are essentially spare parts to their own organization.
  • Ryan Zimmerman projects to play first base for the Nationals next season, but Rosenthal asks what might happen if Washington instead decides to keep Adam LaRoche. Doing so could push Zimmerman to left field full-time, with Bryce Harper manning center field, Jayson Werth in right field and Denard Span becoming a trade chip. Span has a $9MM club option and a “limited”future with the club given the presence of Michael Taylor (not to be confused with the former A’s prospect of the same name) at Double-A, writes Rosenthal.

Central Notes: Yost, Twins, Jay, Taveras

In the midst of a 26-28 season, Royals GM Dayton Moore expresses support for manager Ned Yost, Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City writes. “I have faith in Ned,” says Moore. “He is doing what he can.” Instead, Moore takes the blame for the team’s performance. “It’s my job to give the managers and the coaching staff the right players to succeed. I have to be able to give them the tools to win. So if we’re not succeeding, ultimately the responsibility comes back to me,” he says. The Royals fired hitting coach Pedro Grifol on Thursday, replacing him with Dale Sveum. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Twins are interested in Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay, 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson tweets. The Cardinals have more outfielders than they need (so much so that their surplus may have delayed the promotion of top prospect Oscar Taveras), and could trade from their stockpile. Meanwhile, the Twins’ outfielders have struggled this season.
  • Taveras’ promotion is a big moment for the Cardinals organization, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals ought to make sure they play Taveras regularly, since not doing so would merely waste service time. If Taveras hits well, the Cardinals could move Matt Adams into a “super-sub role” when he’s available to return from the disabled list.

Cardinals To Promote Oscar Taveras

The Cardinals have informed top prospect Oscar Taveras that he will be elevated to the big league club for the first time, reports Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes (Twitter links). Taveras, 21, has risen steadily through the organization’s system since being signed as an international free agent in 2008.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at St. Louis Cardinals

Taveras, who hits and throws from the left side, has been a consensus top-five prospect league-wide entering each of the last two seasons. Entering 2014, MLB.com has him in the second slot, Baseball America ranked him third, and ESPN.com’s Keith Law placed him in the fifth slot to open the year, but just bumped him up to fourth. Regardless of precisely where he falls on that list, all agree that Taveras has impact talent who projects to hit for average and power at the MLB level.

Indeed, the minor league results have generally been there for the 6’2″ Dominican. Taveras entered 2013 after shredding the High-A and Double-A levels over consecutive seasons (at age 19 and 20, respectively). But he missed much of last season due to ankle issues, which slowed his start and may have delayed his ascension to the bigs. Nevertheless, through 395 Triple-A plate appearances over this year and last, he has posted a .316/.358/.495 triple-slash. While adding 12 home runs and six steals over that stretch, Taveras has struck out just 47 times (good for a strong 11.9% strikeout rate).

We just looked at the Cardinals’ glut of outfielding options (courtesy of Bernie Miklasz). GM John Mozeliak made clear that he was not interested in burning service time for his prized prospect unless he was going to play regularly. If that is to be the case, the obvious question becomes where that playing time will come from. Though Taveras has spent much of his minor league career at center field, most evaluators agree that he is better suited for right field, where he brings a big arm to the table. Currently, St. Louis runs out two highly-paid veterans — Matt Holliday and Allen Craig — to its corner outfield spots.

One solution, of course, would be to open a spot for Taveras by shifting Craig to first, which is currently manned by Matt Adams. Indeed, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Adams may be headed for a DL stint. If that proves to be the case, it could be that this promotion does not represent a plan to integrate Taveras into the lineup permanently.

On the other hand, of course, he clearly has the talent to play himself into a regular role. Having entered the year with no service time, Taveras could still pick up enough days on the MLB roster to position himself for Super Two status. Assuming that he is officially added to the active roster tomorrow, Taveras could accrue as many as 121 days of service in 2014. Over the last five seasons, the Super Two cutoff has never fallen below 2.122 days of service. Whether or not Taveras is able to earn a fourth year of arbitration, the Cardinals will control his rights through at least 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Photos.


Cardinals Could Deal From Outfield Surplus

While the Cardinals’ compilation of outfield talent is enviable, it nonetheless presents real difficulties to the team’s front office, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in a piece that is well worth a full read. Indeed, that is precisely how GM John Mozeliak described things. “When you look at depth in baseball, it’s a good problem to have,” he said. “But I think we’re starting to get to the point where it might become a problem. So even though it’s a nice thing to have true depth in your system, at some point you’ve got to be able to play the depth.”

The club’s big league outfielders are off to a somewhat underwhelming start, combining for just a 95 wRC+. A group of four primary options – Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Peter Bourjos, and Jon Jay – is responsible for most of that line. Meanwhile, a trio of well-regarded younger options has gathered at Triple-A, with top prospects Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty joined by offseason trade acquisition Randal Grichuk (whose big numbers in his first Triple-A campaign make the Bourjos and Grichuk for David Freese and Fernando Salas deal look even better for St. Louis.)

While adding one of those names to the MLB outfield mix is surely tempting, Miklasz explains that the scenarios for doing so all come with complications. “You look at how we’re constituted at the major league level,” Mozeliak said, “and it’s difficult trying to find major league at-bats for Taveras, Grichuk, and, not too far down the road, Piscotty.” (Grichuk was actually brought back up today for his second run with the big club, though that move likely relates to the team’s need for a DH for a lengthy run of road match-ups against American League clubs.)

Service time is also an issue that the club will weigh in the balance. As Mozeliak explains, “you’re not going to start somebody’s [service] clock and then have them sit.” All three outfield prospects entered the year without MLB service to their credit, and only Grichuk has begun a tally thus far. It is worth bearing in mind also that all four of the team’s regular big league outfielders are under contract (Holliday, Craig) or control through arbitration (Bourjos, Jay) through at least 2016.

Looking ahead to the summer, more decisive action will likely prove necessary, says Miklasz. The Cards’ GM certainly left the impression that a trade deadline move could be explored, using interesting terms to describe his thinking. “[W]e are going to have to look at what our arbitrage possibilities are with this,” said Mozeliak. And we will have to explore what that looks like between now and the end of July.” As Miklasz explains, a bold maneuver would not be surprising, though what form it might take — dealing away a prospect, a veteran, or even first baseman Matt Adams (while shifting Craig back to the infield) — is still anybody’s guess.


NL Notes: Taveras, Cardinals, Padres, Davis

The Cardinals are currently determining how to find big-league playing time for top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I actually think from a baseball standpoint he could play in the big leagues,” says GM John Mozeliak. “But we’ve got to determine playing time up here with the current roster. Are we at a point where we’re willing to take away at-bats from the current roster and give them to somebody else?” If the Cardinals were to promote Taveras to play regularly, they would have less playing time for some combination of Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay. Taveras is currently hitting .319/.369/.527 in 198 plate appearances for Triple-A Memphis. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • While the Cardinals don’t have playing time for their Triple-A outfield talent right now, Strauss writes that they simply don’t have as much Triple-A pitching talent as they’ve had in recent years. Of course, that’s mostly because they’ve graduated so many talented pitchers in the past few seasons, including Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness. If the Cardinals want to add another strong pitching option this season, Strauss argues, they’ll have to do it via a trade.
  • There are rumors that the Padres could fire manager Bud Black, but Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that it might be worth remembering GM Josh Byrnes’ history firing his manager when he was the GM of the Diamondbacks. In 2009, Byrnes fired Bob Melvin and replaced him with A.J. Hinch. Melvin had a terrific third act as manager of the Athletics, and both Byrnes and Hinch were fired a little more than a year later. Like Byrnes, Hinch is now in the Padres’ front office.
  • Now that first baseman Ike Davis is hitting, life with the Pirates is different than it was with the Mets, MLB.com’s Tim Healey reports. “Going to get coffee, I don’t get hitting tips,” says Davis. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. But I don’t need to think about my stance at 9 in the morning.” Davis is back in New York as the Pirates play at Citi Field this week.