The Cardinals announced today that they’ve signed three players to minor league deals: catcher Eric Fryer, outfielder/left-handed pitcher Jordan Schafer and catcher Gabriel Lino. Each of the three have been invited to Major League Spring Training.
The 31-year-old Fryer should be a familiar face for Cardinals fans after he raked in a small sample as Yadier Molina’s backup last year. Fryer made the roster after expected backup Brayan Pena hit the disabled list with a knee injury and hit a robust .368/.415/.421 in 41 plate appearances across 24 games with St. Louis. He was ultimately designated for assignment and picked up off waivers by the Pirates, with whom he batted .218/.300/.269 in 92 trips to the plate. Fryer spent the 2013-15 seasons in the Twins organization and is a lifetime .254/.332/.328 hitter in 291 MLB plate appearances.
Schafer, 30, was once one of the Braves’ top outfield prospects but went to Houston in the 2011 Michael Bourn trade and was never fully able to realize his potential. He wound up with the Twins in 2014-15, where he got his most recent taste of MLB experience, but is a career .228/.308/.307 hitter in 463 games/1472 plate appearances. His struggles at the plate led him to work out as a pitcher in the Dodgers organization last year, where he posted a 3.83 ERA with 59 strikeouts against 18 walks in 49 total innings. Most of Schafer’s work came at the Double-A level, where he threw quite well. He did ascend to Triple-A briefly late in the year, but he surrendered seven runs in 6 1/3 innings there.
Lino, 23, has spent most of his career in the Phillies organization and reached Triple-A in 2015 before moving back down a level in 2016. He’s a career .230/.303/.341 hitter in parts of seven minor league seasons and has thrown out one-third of the runners that have attempted stolen bases against him in his minor league career.