The Cardinals have selected right-hander Aaron Brooks to the 40-man roster, the team informed reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). He’ll break camp with the club. To clear roster space, righty Alex Reyes has been placed on the 60-day injured list.
St. Louis signed Brooks to a minor league deal in late January. The 31-year-old had spent the prior two seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, working out of the Kia Tigers’ rotation. He pitched to a 2.50 ERA in 151 1/3 innings his first year, leading the Tigers to bring him back for another season. Brooks only made 13 starts and tallied 78 frames last season, but he posted a solid 3.35 ERA in that time.
Brooks only struck 20.1% of opposing hitters over that two-year stretch. Yet he virtually never handed out free passes, walking just 4.4% of batters faced. Of most interest to the Cardinals, he induced grounders on more than three quarters of the balls put in play against him in both his KBO seasons. St. Louis has perhaps the game’s top collection of infield defenders (Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong and Nolan Arenado), and they’d set out this offseason to target pitchers capable of playing to that strength.
They identified Brooks, despite his 6.49 ERA in 170 2/3 career big league innings. The former ninth-round pick suited up with each of the Royals, A’s and Orioles before heading to South Korea but never found much success. The Cards clearly believe he’s capable of performing better with a strong defense behind him, and he can factor into either the rotation or the bullpen for first-year skipper Oli Marmol. St. Louis will be without Jack Flaherty to open the year, giving Brooks a shot to compete for the final rotation spot behind Adam Wainwright, Steven Matz, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas.
It was also already known they’d be without Reyes in the early going, and he’s now officially going to miss at least the first two months of the season. The hard-throwing reliever received a stem cell injection in his shoulder last week and wasn’t expected to be available until late May or early June. Today’s IL placement rules him out until at least the second week of June.
In addition to the Brooks/Reyes news, St. Louis announced they’ve signed utilityman Cory Spangenberg to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old appeared in every big league season between 2014-19, spending the bulk of that time with the Padres. Like Brooks, he’s coming back to the U.S. after a two-year stint in an Asian league — in his case, Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Spangenberg, a left-handed hitter, has a fair bit of experience at each of second base, third base and left field. He owns a .256/.315/.389 line in just under 1400 MLB plate appearances. He combined for a .257/.330/.463 mark in two seasons with the Seibu Lions and will add some versatile depth to the high minors of the St. Louis system.