The Cardinals have signed right-hander Ryan Tepera, with Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat relaying word from president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. It seems as though Tepera will take the roster spot of Génesis Cabrera, whose designation for assignment was reported earlier.
Tepera, 35, has plenty of years of effective relief work on his résumé but 2023 has been challenging. He began the year with the Angels but posted a 7.27 earned run average through 10 outings before that club designated him for assignment and released him. The righty then landed with the Rangers on a minor league deal and reported to their Triple-A club. He tossed eight scoreless innings for Round Rock but didn’t get a roster spot with the Rangers and opted out of that deal last week.
Although the results earlier in the year weren’t pretty, there’s plenty of logic to this pickup for the Cards. Coming into this year, Tepera had a 3.50 career ERA in 354 2/3 innings, so the rough patch with the Halos to start this season represents a drop in the pocket in terms of his larger body of work. His strikeout rate was over 30% in each of 2020 and 2021 before tailing off to the 20% range in the past two seasons, but he just struck out 37.9% of opponents during his stint in Round Rock.
There’s also no financial risk for the Cards. Tepera signed a two-year, $14MM deal with the Angels prior to the 2022 campaign. Though he had a solid 3.61 ERA last year, his struggles a few months back got him released. The Angels are still on the hook for the majority of what’s left of that deal and the Cardinals will only be responsible for the prorated league minimum for any time Tepera spends on their roster.
The Cards have had a disappointing season and are currently 40-53 on the year, putting them in last place in the National League Central and 11.5 games out of a playoff spot. Mozeliak recently admitted that the club will have to go into the deadline as sellers, making moves that set the club up for 2024. The bullpen features some impending free agents like Jordan Hicks and Chris Stratton would would make sense as trade candidates, with Tepera perhaps moving up the bullpen chart in the wake of whatever moves the Cards make. He could theoretically pitch himself into being a candidate himself, though he’ll only two weeks to do so, with the deadline on August 1.