The Cardinals announced Friday that they’ve signed free-agent righty Luis Garcia to a Major League contract. He’ll take the 26-man roster spot of Johan Oviedo, who was optioned to Triple-A Memphis yesterday. Carlos Martinez has been moved to the 60-day injured list in order to create a roster spot.
Garcia, 34, spent the first part of the season in the Yankees organization and pitched well for their Triple-A affiliate before being granted his release a couple days ago. In 17 1/3 frames with Scranton, he pitched to a 3.63 ERA with a 27.5 percent strikeout rate and a 4.3 percent walk rate.
While Garcia didn’t make it to the big leagues with the Yankees, he’s racked up 315 innings across parts of eight Major League seasons — mostly coming with the Phillies. From 2013-18, Garcia was an oft-used member of the Philadelphia bullpen, pitching to a 4.15 ERA over the life of 244 2/3 innings. His age-30 season, in particular, was an excellent campaign that saw the righty post a career-best 2.65 ERA in a career-high 71 1/3 innings.
Garcia has struggled in the three seasons since that outstanding effort, however, posting a combined 5.26 ERA and 4.94 FIP with the Phillies, Angels and Rangers in that time. He’ll look to right the ship with his fourth big league organization and also give the Cards some depth at a time when their pitching staff has been hit hard by injuries.
Martinez’s move to the 60-day injured list comes just two days after he was placed on the 10-day IL, so he’ll spend the remainder of the 2021 season on the shelf. A lengthy absence was expected to be in store for the right-hander, however, given that he tore a ligament in his right thumb. Martinez has had a roller coaster of a season, pitching to a 6.23 ERA overall, but the overwhelming bulk of the damage against him has been confined to a pair of starts: a 10-run drubbing by the Dodgers on June 2 and an eight-run meltdown in Atlanta just two starts later.
Outside of those two starts, Martinez has been a serviceable member of an increasingly injury-marred Cardinals rotation. He has a combined 4.46 ERA in his other 14 outings and has at the very least kept the Cards in the game more often than not. He’ll now join Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas on the injured list, however, leaving the Cardinals with just three starters on the roster at the moment: Adam Wainwright, Kwang Hyun Kim and Wade LeBlanc.
Rotation upgrades figure to be the main focus for the Cards as the July 30 trade deadline approaches — at least if they don’t pivot the other direction and sell off some veteran pieces.