The Cardinals announced that they have non-tendered right-hander Steve Cishek as well as catcher Cody Stanley. The latter of the two, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes (Twitter link), is in the midst of serving a suspension.
Cishek’s non-tender wasn’t necessarily unexpected, considering his lofty $7.1MM arbitration projection (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). Nevertheless, his entry into the free-agent market is notable, as teams will now have the opportunity to negotiate with a player that was once considered to be a star-caliber closer.
The 29-year-old Cishek saved 88 games for the Marlins from 2012-14 and logged a stellar 2.65 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 over his first 257 2/3 innings as a Major League reliever (2010-14). However, he struggled in the early stages of the 2015 season, even earning a demotion to the minors along the way. Cishek performed well at Triple-A and yielded just one earned run across 12 2/3 innings in his return to the Majors before being traded to St. Louis for right-hander Kyle Barraclough.
With the Cardinals, Cishek posted a strong 2.31 ERA, but that number didn’t tell the full story of his work in St. Louis, as he posted a somewhat troublesome 20-to-13 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings with his new club. His velocity was also down in 2015, as his 90.8 mph average heater was the lowest of his career and a good bit south of the ~92.5 mph he averaged when at his best.
Although he’s coming off the worst season of his career, Cishek still seems like a candidate to land a big league deal when considering his entire body of work at the Major League level: a 2.82 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 50.1 percent ground-ball rate.