The Cardinals have designated righty Josh Lucas and infielder Breyvic Valera, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). That’ll open space on the 40-man for the team to select the contracts of reliever Jordan Hicks and catcher Francisco Pena.
It’s a bit of a surprise to see Lucas, who generates whiffs and grounders at solid rates, bounced from the 40-man. He is coming off of a spring showing in which he recorded 11 1/3 scoreless innings with a dozen strikeouts while permitting only four base hits and a pair of walks. Lucas briefly reached the majors last year after throwing sixty frames of 3.15 ERA ball, with 10.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, at the Triple-A level.
As for the 26-year-old Valera, who is mostly a second baseman but has played a variety of other positions as well, he too briefly cracked the bigs last year. Playing at Triple-A for most of the season, he carried a .314/.368/.450 batting line — his best full-season effort as a pro — through 470 plate appearances. Valera showed a big leap in power with eight long balls, topping his career tally to that point. He also walked as much or more than he struck out for the sixth time in eight professional campaigns.