The Cardinals are trying to rebuild while contending, which is why they let right-hander John Lackey depart in free agency, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN.com. Their motivation in letting Lackey walk was receiving a compensatory pick in return, general manager John Mozeliak told Saxon. “The big thing for us is, with where we’ve picked over the last five or six years, it’s really hard to be aggressive on our pipeline. Any chance we could get to pick up a draft pick has been something we value. Perhaps you could argue we overvalue it, but that’s been the strategy of late.” As a result of losing Lackey, St. Louis got the 33rd pick – with which it drafted high school outfielder Dylan Carlson in June – while Lackey is now a member of the archrival Cubs after inking a two-year, $32MM deal during the offseason. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Lackey has carried his above-average production from St. Louis to Chicago, having logged a 3.56 ERA, 8.96 K/9 and 2.49 BB/9 across 151 2/3 innings. Thanks in part to Lackey, the first-place Cubs are what should be an insurmountable 13 games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central.
More on St. Louis and two other NL clubs:
- Cardinals outfielder/first baseman Brandon Moss, an impending free agent, told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d like to re-sign with the Redbirds. “Honestly, I have thought more about wanting to stay here than I have thought about where I could end up,” Moss said. “I think most guys spend their entire careers trying to get to a place like this.” A hip injury helped lead to a subpar output last year for Moss, who joined the Cardinals in a July trade with Cleveland, but he has rebounded in 2016 to post a prolific .257/.339/.563 batting line through 304 plate appearances. Moss leads the Cardinals in home runs (20) and, among major league hitters with at least 300 PAs, trails only David Ortiz in ISO (.306). Mozeliak spoke highly of Moss last week, though the GM added that it wasn’t the right time to discuss an extension. Whether with St. Louis or another team, Moss looks primed to land a raise over his current salary of $8.25MM.
- The Diamondbacks have removed left-hander Patrick Corbin from their rotation in favor of right-hander Zack Godley, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Corbin’s demotion to the bullpen comes on the heels of a Thursday start in which he surrendered eight runs (four earned) on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings of a 9-4 loss to Boston. With a 5.58 ERA through 132 1/3 innings, Corbin has unexpectedly produced poor results this year. The 2014 Tommy John surgery recipient combined to throw 293 1/3 frames of 3.47 ERA ball in 2013 and ’15, adding a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate and 7.85 K/9 against 2.18 BB/9. Although Corbin’s strikeouts (7.18) have remained in a similar range and his grounders (52.6) have increased, both his walk rate (3.88) and home run to fly ball rate (18.5 percent) have spiked. Godley, who has thrown 44 2/3 innings this year, hasn’t fared much differently than Corbin (5.24 ERA, 7.05 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 53.5 grounder rate).
- Jonathan Papelbon didn’t have the smoothest tenure with the Nationals, evidenced by his dugout dust-up with right fielder Bryce Harper last season, but key members of the organization defended the reliever after his release Saturday (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post). “It’s always going to be tough for somebody, but he couldn’t have handled it any better, and I truly mean that,” ace Max Scherzer said of how Papelbon dealt with losing the closer role to the recently acquired Mark Melancon. Continued Scherzer, “Unfortunately, some things went sideways and some other way, but when you talk about a veteran guy in this clubhouse and what he can do for us, he’s going to be missed.” Both president/GM Mike Rizzo and manager Dusty Baker echoed Scherzer’s sentiment. “I think he handled it like a professional, like he’s done everything else here,” offered Rizzo. “He was a great teammate. He was popular with his teammates. They knew that he had their back and they had his,” stated Baker.