The Cardinals announced Monday that they’ve claimed left-hander Packy Naughton off waivers from the Angels. The Cards had one open spot on the 40-man roster, which is now full.
A ninth-round pick by the Reds back in 2017, Naughton was traded to the Halos in the Aug. 2020 trade that shipped outfielder Brian Goodwin to Cincinnati. Naughton made his big league debut in Anaheim last season and wound up pitching 22 2/3 innings with an unsightly 6.35 ERA and more walks (14) than strikeouts (12).
That said, the 25-year-old has a solid minor league track record, having compiled 431 2/3 innings of 3.77 ERA ball with a 21.2% strikeout rate, a 5.7% walk rate and 42.1% grounder rate. Naughton ranked in the middle tiers of both the Angels and Reds farm systems over the years, per Baseball America, who noted that despite lacking a power arsenal Naughton possessed the durability and feel for pitching to profile as a back-end starter.
Indeed, made 28 starts in both 2018 and in 2019, pitching to solid ERAs (4.03 in Class-A and 3.32 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A) with low walk rates and below-average strikeout numbers. For a Cardinals team that’s largely built around an elite defense, he’s a sensible depth pickup. That depth is all the more crucial right now with ace Jack Flaherty and fellow righty Alex Reyes both expected to begin the season on the injured list. Naughton isn’t any kind of favorite to open the year in the Cardinals’ rotation, but he’s a 25-year-old with a pair of option years remaining, so he gives the Cards some nice flexibility.