5:05pm: SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that right-hander Jordan Walden will have his option declined by the Cards. That’s hardly a surprising development, as Walden pitched just 10 1/3 innings over the life of what is in hindsight an ill-fated two-year, $6.6MM deal signed prior to the 2015 campaign. St. Louis acquired Walden from the Braves alongside Jason Heyward in exchange for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins back in 2014, but injuries have prevented Walden from taking the hill much at all in the past two seasons. Walden’s option would’ve paid him $5.25MM had it been exercised, but he’ll receive a $250K buyout instead.
The injury-prone Garcia tossed 171 1/3 innings this season, easily his most since 2011, but run prevention was a serious problem. On the strength of a bloated home run-to-fly ball ratio (20.2 percent), Garcia put up the worst full-season ERA of his career (4.67). However, he did strike out just under eight batters per nine innings (7.86) while posting a respectable walk rate (2.99) and generating ground balls at a 56.7 percent clip.
Despite his history of injuries and a disappointing 2016, Garcia should draw trade interest if the Cardinals shop him. General manager John Mozeliak already did so during the summer, but Garcia ended up finishing the season in St. Louis. Garcia would certainly be among the most talented starters on the free agent market had the Cardinals bought him out, though, and a $12MM investment could be preferable to teams over signing a flawed free agent for more. The Cardinals could also retain Garcia as depth, of course, as Michael Wacha is a candidate to shift to the bullpen and Lance Lynn missed all of this season because of Tommy John surgery.