The Cardinals have released veteran righty Jason Motte but remain open to bringing him back into the organization, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. If he is unable to find a MLB opportunity elsewhere, Motte is expected to return on a new deal.
It seems the hope, if not the expectation, is for Motte to ink a new minors pact that will allow him to work at the Cards’ top affiliate to open the season. The 35-year-old, once the team’s closer, fell short in his bid to crack the Opening Day roster but showed enough to earn a place on the depth chart. First, though, he’ll see if there’s interest from another team.
Motte managed to carry a 3.54 ERA in 40 2/3 MLB frames last year in spite of an uninspiring mix of 6.0 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He surely benefited from a .200 batting average on balls in play, as Statcast suggested a .337 xwOBA that lands significantly higher than the .305 wOBA mark that actually resulted.
That said, Motte did continue to work near 94 mph with his average heater and maintained a 7.6% swinging-strike rate that — while well below league average and his own peak rates — fell in line with his output in recent seasons. This spring, Motte surrendered six earned runs on 13 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but did record six strikeouts.