The Cardinals have re-signed right-handed reliever Wilking Rodríguez to a minor league deal, per Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat. The righty will be a non-roster invitee in Spring Training.
Rodríguez, 34 in March, returns to the organization with whom he technically spent 2023. The Cards grabbed him from the Yankees one year ago in the Rule 5 draft. He opened the season on the injured list due to right shoulder soreness and underwent surgery in May. He stayed on the IL for the full season and collected a year of service time but never pitched in a regular season game for the Cards. He was outrighted off the roster last week and elected free agency, but now returns in a non-roster capacity.
His selection in the Rule 5 was fairly unusual as most picks in that draft tend to be players in their early 20s who have yet to crack the big leagues. But Rodríguez actually made his major league debut back in 2014, tossing two innings for the Royals. He spent much of the intervening time away from affiliated ball, pitching for teams in Venezuela and Mexico. The Yanks signed him to a minor league deal in August of 2022, surely intrigued by his 2.01 earned run average and 43.2% strikeout rate in Mexico that year. The Cardinals plucked him away a few months later but were unable to make use of his talents due to the shoulder injury.
Rodríguez will give the Cards a bit of extra depth for their bullpen, which is in a state of flux. The relief corps posted a collective 4.47 ERA in 2023 and traded away Chris Stratton and Jordan Hicks at last year’s deadline.