St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin says that Rodriguez represents another option that they can go to if necessary and is a low-risk signing, writes MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Melvin also said that he spoke to a prosecutor before re-signing Rodriguez to ensure that Rodriguez’s legal troubles were closed. The reliever was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in September, but those charges were dropped.
- In an interview with Mut & Merloni of WEEI, ESPN.com's Buster Olney said that he sees the Cubs as the most likely team to trade for the Rays' David Price with the Cardinals also in the mix. In Olney's estimation, the Cards can blow everyone else out of the water if they decide to dip into their farm system to pull off a trade.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) credited Melvin for picking up Yuniesky Betancourt late in the spring after he didn't hook on with the Phillies. The signing looks particularly good at the moment after Betancourt's grand slam last night and third inning home run earlier this evening.
Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com looked at ten big league managers whose jobs could be in jeopardy this season. Charlie Manuel of the Phillies makes the list as he is in the final year of his contract and potential replacement Ryne Sandberg is on the coaching staff. Ron Gardenhire is another manager could be on the hot seat because of pressure from upper management, but if it's up to GM Terry Ryan, he won't be going anywhere. Here's more from around baseball..
- Baseball could be entering a golden age for trades thanks to changes in the CBA and the wave of extensions reducing the talent level in the free agent pool, writes Joel Sherman of New York Post. Teams are also no longer under the impression that a handful of superpowers will dominate the market, giving other clubs with championship aspirations confidence to make bold moves.
- The Nationals' trade for Denard Span indirectly stemmed from maneuverings involving the Upton brothers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Nats, according to a major league source, made a strong attempt to trade for Justin Upton early in the offseason. But when that didn't happen, GM Mike Rizzo refocused on finding a left-handed hitting center fielder who could bat leadoff and rarely struck out. Span fit the description perfectly and the Braves' signing of B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75MM deal scared them off the free agent market.
- After the Cardinals learned that they would be without Chris Carpenter this season, Kyle Lohse says that he got calls from his former teammates, but not the front office, to gauge his interest in returning, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When asked if he thought they were curious or gathering intelligence for the club, Lohse said: "Both."
Here's a look at this week's edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- One problem with figuring out a contract extension for Jeff Samardzija is that there are really no comparables for him. He has only two years of arbitration before coming a free agent but he's also only had one season as a full-time starter. The Cubs want to keep him and Samardzija likes Chicago but he's already made about $17MM over the course of his career. He could develop into a big time ace over the next couple of years and might be willing to gamble a bit for a massive payday on the open market.
- The Cardinals repeatedly got trade requests on Allen Craig, Matt Adams, and Oscar Taveras last offseason, but going forward they should be able to accommodate all three rather easily. They're already using Craig in the outfield at times to work Adams in at first base and rest either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Next year, Beltran could be gone as a potential free agent and Taveras will be ready to take his place. At that time, the Cards can work the same type of rotation with the three players.
- The Rays could trade David Price at the deadline in the unlikely event that they fall out of contention, but its more likely that they make their move next offseason when he's coming off of a $10MM+ salary with two years of arbitration remaining. It's possible that the club could afford Price for one more year through 2014 with each team's national TV revenue will going from $25MM this season to about $52MM next year. The problem with that is, the closer he gets to free agency, the lower his trade value will be.
- Davey Johnson says its a given that he won't manage the Nationals next season but he also says that he's not anywhere close to wanting a farewell tour. He might be 70, but he also wants to stay in baseball and keep his options open. After the Dodgers fired him in 2000, he went on to eventually manage different teams (Netherlands and the U.S.) in international play, and could do the same once he's done with the Nats.
The Yankees turned the first 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in Major League history tonight in the eighth inning of their 5-2 win over the Orioles. Manny Machado was the unlucky Oriole who put the ball into play and he represented the third out while he was caught between first and second base.
Here are some news items from around the majors as we head into the weekend...
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has spoken to an opposing GM about a closer within the last week, Dombrowski told Jim Bowden during an interview on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
- The Mets haven't had any internal discussions about offering Matt Harvey an extension, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports, and likely won't do so until after the season at the earliest. Costa hears from a team of business students who project a four- or five-year deal worth $30-$35MM following the 2014 season as a fair possible extension for Harvey, though Costa wonders if Harvey (and agent Scott Boras) would agree to such a contract.
- Jason Isringhausen hasn't officially retired since he is open to pitching again in the right situation, but the veteran reliever tells FOX Sports Midwest's Ben Frederickson that "as of last year, I left on my terms. So, if it never happens again, I'm perfectly happy."
- Now that teams can trade from their pools of international bonus money, Baseball America's Ben Badler looks at which clubs might look to acquire or sell some of their funds this summer.
- In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Jim Bowden discusses why he thinks a Jurickson Profar-for-Oscar Taveras deal would work for both the Rangers and Cardinals. Such a swap would be what Bowden calls a "challenge" trade that can shape a franchise, akin to the one he made as Reds GM in 1992 when he dealt Paul O'Neill to the Yankees for Roberto Kelly. Of course, as Bowden notes, that deal backfired badly for him: "True, that O’Neill-for-Kelly deal will haunt me to my grave, but it was the gutsiest trade I’ve ever made."
- A Profar-for-Taveras deal wouldn't make sense for the Rangers at this time, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett opines. Rather than deal for another prospect, Durrett argues Texas could move Profar as part of a package for a proven Major League star like David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Or, the Rangers could simply keep Profar for themselves and instead move Ian Kinsler to first base or the outfield to make room.
Yesterday, the Dodgers narrowed their starter surplus by one when they shipped Aaron Harang to the Rockies for catcher Ramon Hernandez. Here's more on yesterday's swap and other notes out of the Western divisions.
- The Dodgers now have seven starting pitchers, which is more livable that the eight they had yesterday, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Observers might have expected the Dodgers to come away with more in the trade, but GM Ned Colletti has had months to gauge interest from around the majors and this was the best deal that he could find.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels was asked by Jim Bowden of SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio (on Twitter) if he would consider a swap of Jurickson Profar and Oscar Taveras, but artfully dodged the question. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak recently told Bowden that he would have to consider such an offer if presented with it.
Earlier today, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs explored a hypothetical swap of super-prospects: Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras. Even if one were to prefer the upside of Taveras to the floor of Profar, Cameron says, the present value of Profar to the middle-infield-hungry Cards tilts clearly in favor of such a deal for St. Louis. For the Rangers, though, Taveras is not quite as clean a fit, as the club would presumably need to move Nelson Cruz to first. And giving up Profar now could hurt the team's chances of landing another hypothetical trade target: Giancarlo Stanton. If Texas asked for the Cardinals to kick in something more to sweeten the deal, however, it would begin to look less attractive to St. Louis. Thus, while St. Louis GM John Mozeliak says he'd have to consider such a deal (Twitter link), Cameron concludes that it is unlikely to materialize.
- MLBTR has learned of some additional provisions contained in Elvis Andrus's recent extension, each of which would figure in if the Rangers ever looked to trade the shortstop. In addition to a limited no-trade clause, Andrus would obtain full no-trade protection for the balance of the contract if he is traded at any point. Further, the previously reported vesting club option for 2023 would instead become a player option if Andrus is with a different team when the contract expires in 2022 (assuming, of course, that the deal has not already terminated via one of its opt-out clauses.) The potential club option and player option both vest upon the same 2021-22 plate appearance thresholds.
- The Astros, firmly in rebuilding mode, may well have the right baseball operations leadership to make it successful. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' scouting director from 2005-11, is credited with drafting more 2013 Opening Day major leaguers (21) than any other scouting director. Baseball America's Conor Glassey broke down Luhnow's many successes, which make up a sizeable portion of St. Louis's current (and likely future) roster.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio's Casey Stern and Jim Bowden (audio link), Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that he would have to consider a hypothetical swap of Oscar Taveras and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar. Mozeliak went on to say that while the club is well set in the outfield for years to come, they're not quite as strong in the middle infield. Here's more from around baseball..
- Since word of the Elvis Andrus extension leaked, the Rangers have received at least a couple of trade inquiries on Profar, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, Rangers people say they are as high on Profar as ever and have no intention or need to trade him.
- Even though it's costly to secure insurance for baseball contracts, the Giants are looking into a policy for Buster Posey's lucrative deal, writes Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. An insurer might demand an exclusion for any injury related to the left ankle that he damaged in the 2011 collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.
- Nationals third baseman and Brodie Van Wagenen client Ryan Zimmerman is intrigued by Jay-Z's partnership with CAA, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. “When you get a guy like [Jay-Z], who wants to get involved in baseball — he is obviously one of the icons of our generation for his music,” Zimmerman said. “I think he has become a very savvy and smart businessman. It will be interesting to see what happens and where it goes and how it goes."
by MLBTR's Steve Adams
The Cardinals didn't make any significant changes, but spent big to retain their own players following a season in which they were one game from a return to the World Series.
Major League Signings
- Ronny Cedeno, IF: one year, $1.15MM (has since been released).
- Ty Wigginton, UT: two years, $5MM.
- Randy Choate, RP: three years, $7.5MM.
- Total Spend: $13.65MM.
- Alex Reyes, P: $950K.
- Henry Alvarado, P: $150K.
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
- Acquired IF Jake Lammerman from Dodgers for UT Skip Schumaker.
- Allen Craig, UT: five years, $31MM. $13MM Club option for 2018.
- Adam Wainwright, SP: five years, $97.5MM.
The Cardinals finished the 2012 season with 88 wins, a wild card playoff berth and a trip to the National League Championship Series. That was a strong enough showing for rookie manager Mike Matheny to cause the team to pick up his option for the 2014 season in February.
Rather than investing money and/or prospects in order to pursue middle infield upgrades, the team elected to spend money down the line with extensions for Adam Wainwright and Allen Craig. General manager John Mozeliak was able to secure Wainwright for under $100MM, which many pundits thought would be difficult to do.
Mozeliak correctly determined that Kyle Lohse would turn down a qualifying offer in search of a hefty free agent payday (more on that later). Following the news of Chris Carpenter's season-ending (and career-threatening) injury, Lance Lynn and top prospect Shelby Miller are slated to round out manager Mike Matheny's rotation.
The Cardinals added a second left-hander to his bullpen to complement Marc Rzepczynski by adding Randy Choate on a three-year deal. Three years and $7.5MM for Choate was surprising, but it's hard to deny his dominance over left-handed hitters; in the past four seasons he's held opposing lefties to a .163/.230/.237 batting line.
Ty Wigginton was signed to add some right-handed pop off the bench. The 35-year-old is capable of handling both infield and outfield duty. He appeared at third base, first base and left field for the Phillies in 2012 and has a career .270/.354/.456 line against southpaws. He'll give the team a solid, albeit unspectacular bat off the bench.
Two long-time Cardinals were sent packing this offseason, as Kyle McClellan was non-tendered (he would go on to sign with the Rangers) and Skip Schumaker was dealt to the Dodgers. The two moves saved roughly $3.9MM, as McClellan had projected to earn about $2.4MM as a third-time arbitration-eligible player.
Ronny Cedeno was brough in to compete for infield playing time, but even after the news that Rafael Furcal would miss the entire season with Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals elected to release him and go with Pete Kozma as the starting shortstop. Cedeno has since signed with the Astros to be the team's everyday shortstop.
The Cardinals made a significant investment in Craig despite the fact that he's played just 238 career games at age 28 and has never topped 112 games in a season thanks to injuries. He'll need to prove that he's able to stay on the field and maintain his impressive level of production from 2011-12 (.309/.357/.532) over the course of a full Major League season.
The Cardinals are set to enter the season with a middle infield consisting of Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, following the Furcal injury and Schumaker trade. Middle infield was already a potential weak spot for St. Louis entering the season, but this tandem now looks even more exposed in light of Furcal's injury. Top prospect Kolten Wong is nearly ready for the Majors, but if that trio falters Mozeliak could be in the market for a middle infielder this July.
Lynn and Miller have yet to prove themselves over a full season of starting at the Major League level, but the team has players like Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly as insurance in the event of an injury or poor performance.
Deal of Note
Even after the news of Carpenter's injury, the Cardinals still decided to go with internal rotation options rather than approach Kyle Lohse about a reunion. In a show of tremendous faith in its young pitching, the team decided it valued a draft pick and the resulting boost to its draft bonus pool that would come when Lohse signed elsewhere.
St. Louis watched a division rival -- the Brewers -- sacrifice value in this year's draft in order to strengthen its team and make a run at the division title or a wild card spot. Should Lohse thrive while this year's Cardinals rotation underperforms, there will be no shortage of people who look back to the month of March and wonder if signing Lohse would have altered the course of events.
Despite question marks in the middle infield, St. Louis has a deep lineup and enough pitching depth to make a run at a third consecutive trip to the NLCS. They may need to search for a shortstop and/or second baseman come July, but an NL Central Division title isn't out of question for a team that figures to be among the most well-rounded clubs in baseball.
After recapping the Pirates' offseason, let's take a look at the rest of the NL Central..
- The Collective Bargaining Agreement meant that Kyle Lohse had to wait longer than expected to sign this winter, but he can be a real game changer in the NL Central for the Brewers, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The veteran will pitch alongside Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada in front of the National League's best offense in 2012.
- Fresh off of signing a five-year, $97.5MM contract extension, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says that he is ready to be the club's undisputed ace, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Aside from being an impact player on the mound, Wainwright is also looked up to by the other hurlers on the team.
- The Cubs did some spring cleaning today and made some minor league cuts, including 2010 first-rounder Hayden Simpson and Dontrelle Willis, according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has officially signed a five-year, $97.5MM extension that includes a no-trade clause, preventing him from hitting the free agent market next offseason. Here's a roundup of reactions from around the internet.
- Wainwright's contract is an example of "sticker shock" in MLB salaries, Jonah Keri at Grantland writes. Keri points out that the average annual value of Wainwright's contract is comparable to those of Matt Cain and Jered Weaver, but Cain and Weaver are younger and didn't recently miss a year due to Tommy John surgery, as Wainwright did in 2011. But that doesn't necessarily make it a bad deal, Keri says, because of changing economic circumstances throughout the game.
- The Cardinals "paid a premium" for Wainwright, writes Steven Goldman of SB Nation. Goldman points to Wainwright's lower velocity last year as cause for concern. "Wainwright and the Cardinals are both looking for security in this deal, but if that's the case only one party to the deal will be sleeping well at night," says Goldman.
- If Wainwright had been allowed to leave via free agency after the 2013 season, the Cardinals would have missed his leadership, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues. "With Chris Carpenter's career ruined by chronic pitching-health issues, and Jaime Garcia not possessing the hard-wiring to be a leader type, the Cardinals faced a potential void at the top," says Miklasz. "If Wainwright had left as a free agent after the 2013 season, who would guide the young pitchers?"
- At the press conference to announce his signing, Wainwright himself had kind words for the city of St. Louis, the Associated Press reports. "I feel like my heart is in St. Louis," said Wainwright.