Feb. 19: Motte has passed his physical, as the Cardinals announced the signing this morning.
Feb. 16: The Cardinals have struck a minor-league pact with veteran reliever Jason Motte, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The agreement is still pending a physical. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first connected the sides on Twitter.
Motte, 35, rejoins his long-time organization after a three-year hiatus. The former Cards closer has spent time with the Cubs, Rockies, and Braves since the start of 2015.
There’s little question that Motte did not regain his prior form after missing all of 2013 for Tommy John surgery. The converted catcher had posted 192 1/3 innings of 2.43 ERA pitching over the prior three seasons at that point. Since, he has allowed 4.12 earned per nine over 137 2/3 innings, with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9.
Motte once averaged about a 12 percent swinging-strike rate and roughly 97 mph heater. Since returning from surgery, Motte has declined precipitously in both regards. He generated whiffs at a marginal 7.6% rate last year and averaged 93.8 mph with his heater.
To be fair, Motte found a way to succeed despite managing only 6.0 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in his 40 2/3 innings in 2017. He ended the season with a 3.54 ERA, after all. But there’s little reason to believe that Motte will be able to replicate a .200 batting average on balls in play.