St. Louis Cardinals – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-02-19T00:23:22Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals May Be Wary Of Late-Spring Signings]]> 2019-02-18T04:54:59Z 2019-02-18T04:54:59Z
  • Holland’s slow start could factor into the Cardinals’ decision about pursuing any current free agents this spring, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  President of baseball operations John Mozeliak implied that if the team did add any new faces on minor league deals, a stint in extended Spring Training could be required or even “demanded” of any new signing.  “So, lesson learned from last year perhaps?  I think for sure,” Mozeliak said.  “You have to take something away from that. The outcome [with Holland] was not what we wanted. I think we did learn our lesson.”  Goold also observes that the Cards could face something of a roster crunch as they juggle multiple out-of-options players, so some trades could potentially come later in the spring.
    • Greg Holland had a much rougher trip through free agency in the 2017-18 offseason.  The veteran reliever described his quest to sign a contract and subsequent rough 2018 season to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale as a situation that “snowballed for me and spiraled out of control for me.”  Holland’s services were weighed down by a qualifying offer, and he said that talks with the Rockies abruptly ended after Colorado pivoted to sign Wade Davis rather than wait for Holland to further test the market.  As a result, Holland didn’t find a new team until he signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals on Opening Day, and the lack of a proper Spring Training led to disastrous on-field results.  “Physically, I felt great, I felt healthy.  But you’re throwing to college guys, and a week later you’re pitching in the major leagues in a tie game,” Holland said.  “You can only emulate so much of a big-league game….The quicker you can get into a scenario where you’re facing Major League talent on a consistent basis, you’re going to be more successful.”  This winter, Holland signed a one-year, $3.25MM deal with the Diamondbacks, as the right-hander looks to get his career back on track.
    • Holland’s slow start could factor into the Cardinals’ decision about pursuing any current free agents this spring, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  President of baseball operations John Mozeliak implied that if the team did add any new faces on minor league deals, a stint in extended Spring Training could be required or even “demanded” of any new signing.  “So, lesson learned from last year perhaps?  I think for sure,” Mozeliak said.  “You have to take something away from that. The outcome [with Holland] was not what we wanted. I think we did learn our lesson.”  Goold also observes that the Cards could face something of a roster crunch as they juggle multiple out-of-options players, so some trades could potentially come later in the spring.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Tazawa, Brach, Pirates, Goldschmidt]]> 2019-02-16T15:54:30Z 2019-02-16T15:52:30Z Junichi Tazawa is set to arrive in Cubs camp on Monday after working out visa issues that delayed his arrival, per the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. Tazawa remains a long shot to make the Cubs Opening Day roster, as he hasn’t been an asset to a major league bullpen since 2016 with the Red Sox. After posting a 7.07 ERA for the Marlins and Angels last season, Tazawa looks to re-establish himself in Cubs camp for former employer Theo Epstein, though again, the window of opportunity in Chicago is slim. Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Mike Montgomery, Brandon Kintzler, and newcomer Brad Brach all figure to hold down spots in the Chicago pen, leaving Tazawa to compete for the final remaining innings with Xavier Cedeno, Tyler Chatwood, Alec Mills, Brian Duensing, Dillon Maples, Randy Rosario, and a few others. Brandon Morrow’s injury provides a limited-time opportunity for someone, but he’ll obviously take over one of those open spots when he returns for the injured list. Here are a few more notes from the Cubs bullpen and the rest of the NL Central…

    • A couple weeks before being traded from the Orioles to the Braves last season, reliever Brad Brach noticed his arm slot had shifted higher than usual, writes the Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma. When his release point shifts over-the-top, Brach loses some of the deception in his delivery and changes the plane of his pitch movement. He is cognizant, however, that he’s more effective as he stays closer to a three-quarters delivery. The mechanical adjustment certainly seemed to help as he turned in 23 2/3 innings of 1.52 ERA ball after joining the Braves. His peripherals don’t wholly buy the shift in performance, but his fastball command certainly improved and that’s the foundation of his arsenal. Of course, the revelation is only one part of the process, as refining and automating the lower arm slot will continue to be a process as he starts throwing again this season. If Brach can repeat his delivery consistently, he may prove to be a significant addition to a Cubs pen who needs the help.
    • Brach should have no trouble keeping his competitive edge with the Cubs, who are facing a dogfight in a tight National League Central. There’s no tanking here, where the Reds have raised the floor with marked improvements to their rotation this offseason. The Cardinals and Brewers have made obvious win-now additions this winter as well, and while the Cubs have largely stood pat (excepting additions like Brach above), there’s little doubt they will be in the competitive mix once again. The sleeper in the division and maybe the league is the Pirates, per Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The PECOTA projection system has the Pirates ahead of the Cubs, and though they’ve been quiet this winter, their biggest additions were made at least year’s deadline when they traded for Chris Archer and Keone Kela. It would certainly be a surprise for the Pirates to steal the NL Central from such a crowded field, but they’re only three years removed from the most successful stretch in recent franchise history and they finished above .500 last season. A Pirates division title would be surprising, for sure, but it’s not inconceivable.
    • In a video for CBS Sports, Jim Bowden expresses optimism that Paul Goldschmidt will outperform both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado en route to an MVP-type season. Goldschmidt should certainly bolster the Cardinals offense in 2019, though his long-term future with the club remains uncertain. The Cardinals are pursuing an extension with Goldschmidt, and given the current free agent market, Goldy would be wise to at least consider locking up his long-term future now if the offer is fair.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals May Consider Utilizing Carlos Martinez In Bullpen]]> 2019-02-13T20:15:37Z 2019-02-13T20:15:37Z While he’ll unquestionably enter camp as a starter, Carlos Martinez may well end up in the bullpen,’s Jenifer Langosch reports.

    Martinez ended the 2018 season in a relief role, though that decision was driven by the practical fact that he did not have time to work fully back from a shoulder injury. Though he (rather unsurprisingly) pitched well out of the pen, the stated plan was to slide Martinez back into the rotation.

    Now, with camp opening, there are signals from the Cards’ uniformed staff that Martinez could be seen internally as a late-inning relief asset. Pitching coach Mike Maddux, in particular, dropped a few winks at the possibility, saying he “liked [Martinez] out of the bullpen a lot.”

    “Right now, Carlos is in the rotation, but that’s the great thing about the flexibility we have,” said Maddux. “You might be a starter in Spring Training, but you might end up in the bullpen or something like that.”

    While he wasn’t quite as suggestive, skipper Mike Shildt also wasn’t shy about acknowledging the possibility of Martinez returning to the relief unit. He emphasized that Martinez is “expected to be a starter,” but in the same breath made clear that “he is a piece that could transition to the bullpen.”

    “The thing we like about Carlos is the flexibility that he can bring, and his effectiveness in both roles,” Schildt also said. “So as you look at your total team and what it looks like, you always want to have the option or the availability to know that there is flexibility.”

    Those comments obviously don’t represent anything approaching a clear indication that the Cardinals actually intend to bump Martinez to the pen. Still, that’s an awful lot of discussion of the possibility at the outset of camp. Both Maddux and Schildt expressed openness, if not more, to a reprisal of Martinez’s late-2018 role.

    We’ll see how things turn out, but a permanent change of job titles would be a significant development. Martinez has had plenty of success as a starter and would surely have greater potential value in that role. He’s one of the highest-upside hurlers in a starting mix that has quite a lot of talent but also some real uncertainties. Martinez is also already being paid close to top dollar for a reliever, with three years and $34.5MM left on his extension. That deal’s option-year price tags ($17MM and $18MM) seem much likelier to be appealing if Martinez is working from the rotation.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Central Notes: Ventura, Goldschmidt, Taillon]]> 2019-02-12T15:07:57Z 2019-02-12T14:40:54Z At the time of his tragic death in 2017, Yordano Ventura was playing on a long-term deal with the Royals that still included $20.25MM in guaranteed future salary. Sam McDowell and Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star provide an update on the status of that contract and the remaining loose ends of his estate, which has claimed insolvency. Ventura’s daughter, now five, is the sole heir. Fortunately, she did already receive a significant recovery under a life insurance policy. But the estate, which has had to pay down obligations that Ventura incurred while supporting family and friends in his native Dominican Republic, is still pursuing the balance of his contract with the Royals. It appears to present some potentially novel (and likely also fact-intensive) issues. According to the piece, there does not appear to be a prior instance of a player dying during a long-term contract. Those interested in learning about the full story and potential factors in the still-unresolved contract situation will certainly want to read the Star’s full report.

    Here are some more notes from the game’s central divisions:

    • The Cardinals made clear that they intend to seek a long-term deal with new star Paul Goldschmidt, and the opening of camp also starts the clock on pre-season conversations. That said, there are indications that the St. Louis organization will not impose any timing restrictions on talks, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted in a recent article regarding a host of Spring Training issues. The team is evidently prepared to hold discussions in whatever time and manner Goldschmidt himself prefers, even if that means keeping the line open in the midst of his first (and potentially only) season in St. Louis.
    • Pirates righty Jameson Taillon enters the 2019 season facing big expectations, as Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. He also has his eye on the broader player market as a union rep and student of the business of the game. The 27-year-old starter says he’s not only hoping for free agents to earn big salaries, but rooting for those that do to perform well under their contracts. As Gorman notes, the Bucs hold Taillon in high esteem and would surely be interested in working out an extension — particularly given that he’s still a full season away from arbitration. It stands to reason, though, that the former second overall draft pick will not sell his future campaigns for anything less than full value.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Michael Wacha Not Anticipating Spring Extension Talks]]> 2019-02-09T14:33:36Z 2019-02-09T05:03:03Z
  • Meanwhile, right-handed Cardinals starter Michael Wacha struck a similar tone, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, though he’s in a bit of a different situation than Wheeler. Though Wacha also turned in strong results last year, he ended the season on the shelf with an oblique injury. His own injury struggles are well-documented, albeit not as extensive as Wheeler’s, yet the situation is not one that’s obviously ripe for extension talks even as free agency beckons. Wacha made clear he has not been approached by the club to this point, saying he’s “not getting prepared for any talks” in camp.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Senzel, Cubs Comeback]]> 2019-02-02T15:40:26Z 2019-02-02T14:53:32Z It doesn’t sound as if the Cardinals are planning to make another addition to their roster. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes president of baseball operations John Mozeliak in stating that the team has accomplished much of what it set out to do this winter. “Any move we would make now would sort of complicate things,” said Mozeliak. “Even if we were to break (camp) today, we’re going to have guys competing for at-bats already. And we still feel we have a lot of depth in our pitching.” Beyond that, Mozeliak indicated that he “[sees] no reason” that left fielder Marcell Ozuna wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day. Ozuna played through a shoulder injury in 2018 and underwent offseason surgery, but Mozeliak notes that the outfielder is already swinging a bat and is on track to begin a throwing program when he reports to Spring Training in February.

    More from the division…

    • Nick Senzel will be given every opportunity to earn starting centerfield duties this season, per John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Reds have no shortage of outfielders, with Yasiel Puig, Scott Schebler, Jesse Winker and Matt Kemp all in the corner outfield mix, but none of them are natural fits in center. Phil Ervin will have the chance to take some at-bats, but he profiles better in the corners as well. The hope appears to be that Senzel will prove a quick study, able to secure his spot in the bigs by learning yet another new position. Senzel, of course, comes to big league camp a third baseman by trade, and he’s spent some time at second base as well – but with Eugenio Suarez locked into a long-term deal at third, and Scooter Gennett at least temporarily installed at second, Senzel’s path to the the bigs goes through the only position on the Reds lineup card without a starter in place.
    • Former first round pick Luke Hagerty is attempting a comeback at age 37, writes ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Hagerty hasn’t pitched professionally since 2008 when a case of the yips drove him from the game. Hagerty has reworked his arsenal and his mindset at the Driveline Baseball Program, the same facility where Kyle Zimmer of the Royals trained last season. At a recent Driveline pro day tryout, the 6’7″ Hagerty averaged a 96.9 mph fastball, impressing himself and the area scouts in attendance. Sixteen and a half years after they signed him the first time, the Cubs signed Hagerty again, this time to a minor league deal. The first time through the Cubs system, Hagerty suffered from the yips, a hiccup rooted in psychology wherein an automatic physical ability, like throwing a baseball over the plate, suddenly and without apparent cause, becomes no longer automatic. The yips are a hurdle that Hagerty appears to have cleared, however, and the southpaw is throwing electric stuff. If Hagerty does make it to the show, he would be the oldest player (without international experience) to make his major league debut since Satchel Paige in 1948. Even Jim Morris, made famous by Dennis Quaid in Disney’s The Rookie, was three years younger than Hagerty when he took his last/best shot at the bigs.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cuban Shortstop Yolbert Sanchez Cleared To Sign With MLB Teams]]> 2019-01-23T06:01:19Z 2019-01-23T06:01:19Z Shortstop Yolbert Sanchez has left Cuba and has been cleared by Major League Baseball to sign with teams beginning on Feb. 5, Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs report. The 21-year-old (22 in March) will be subject to MLB’s international bonus pool system.

    Sanchez’s stats in his limited professional experience won’t wow anyone — he’s a .297/.338/.345 hitter in 435 plate appearances — but McDaniel and Longenhagen nonetheless paint him as a likely seven-figure bonus recipient due to his raw speed, glovework at shortstop and arm strength — each of which are considered by scouts to be anywhere from above average to plus. Their report notes that scouts view him as the type of prospect who’ll typically command a bonus between $2-4MM.

    Certainly, that bodes well for the Orioles, who still have upwards of $6MM in their international bonus pool after whiffing on prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston when the trio signed early in the 2018-19 offseason (the Mesa brothers with the Marlins; Gaston with the Rays).

    Of course, the mere fact that the Orioles presently have the most money at their disposal doesn’t by any means make Baltimore a lock to sign Sanchez. The O’s, after all, had the ability to make larger offers to the Mesa brothers and Gaston but did not ultimately ink any of the trio. It’s also possible that they don’t view Sanchez as a prospect who should command such an investment — or at least that they don’t like him to the same extent as another organization with millions remaining in its bonus pool. Beyond that, Sanchez could technically opt to wait until July 2 to sign, at which point bonus pools would reset and present him with a vastly larger list of suitors.

    While Baltimore is the runaway leader in remaining pool space, McDaniel and Longenhagen write that the Dodgers, Cubs and Phillies are among the teams with the most resources remaining.’s Jesse Sanchez adds the Cardinals to the mix, noting that St. Louis has an estimated $1.85MM remaining in its pool. Sanchez pegs the Dodgers at about $1.4MM, the Phillies at roughly $1MM and the Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox in the $750-800K range. Sanchez will hold workouts for teams later this week in the Dominican Republic, per Fangraphs’ report.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Report: No Indication Contract Talks With Goldschmidt Have Begun]]> 2019-01-23T03:41:11Z 2019-01-23T03:40:21Z
  • Signing Paul Goldschmidt to an extension could be a bit more complicated for the Cardinals than many would think, as Mark Saxon of The Athletic explores in his latest column (subscription required). Goldschmidt has already signed what turned out to be one exceptionally team-friendly extension, and as the former union representative for the D-backs, he takes particular umbrage with team owners’ increasing reluctance toward spending in free agency. Saxon wonders whether Goldschmidt will feel obligated to push for a maximum-value contract given his views, though he emphasizes that Goldschmidt himself has declined to discuss his feelings about a new contract. And, as Saxon further writes, there are no indications that talks between the Cardinals and Goldschmidt’s agent, Casey Close, have begun.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yadier Molina, Kris Bryant Exchange Barbs]]> 2019-01-22T15:37:10Z 2019-01-22T14:14:53Z
  • Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Cardinals and Cubs seem to be primed for a feud in the coming campaign. Both teams are dead set on getting back to the top of the division. And now things are getting personal. As Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deftly explains, Chicago star Kris Bryant’s casual and mostly harmless jab at the city of St. Louis (“boring”) ignited a “scorched-earth response” from stalwart St. Louis backstop Yadier Molina. It might seem like much ado about nothing; it may turn out to be just that. But Molina promises “it will carry” into the season. And as Frederickson explains, the matter touches at something deeper in the psyches of Molina, the Cards, and even the city they play in.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[DeWitt: Cardinals Interested In Long-Term Deal With Paul Goldschmidt]]> 2019-01-22T03:03:40Z 2019-01-22T03:03:40Z Though the Cardinals may not have many further additions to make to their 2019 roster, that doesn’t mean the club’s offeason business is complete. In comments today, as’s Jenifer Langosch was among those to report, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. made clear that the organization has serious interest in keeping newly acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt beyond the coming campaign.

    It’s certainly not a surprise to hear that the Cards have interest in a long-term arrangement, though it certainly could have been the case that the team would instead have taken more of a wait-and-see position. Foreseeable though it may have been, it is notable that the Cards are seemingly embarking upon an extension effort (or at least, are laying the groundwork for one) at this early juncture.

    Negotiations, it seems, likely haven’t begun. But DeWitt and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made clear that they fully intend to pursue contract talks, perhaps as soon as this spring.

    “We’d love to have him here longer than one year,” said DeWitt, “and we’ll just see how that plays out.” He went on to hint at the Cardinals’ thinking on the initial decision to acquire Goldschmidt in a deal that cost young, controllable, MLB-level talent: “I think worst case is we get a top Draft choice, but that’s not our goal when we trade for a player like Paul Goldschmidt.”

    Though Mozeliak wasn’t quite as forthcoming, he did cite the same idea of a one-year “gamble” that DeWitt did. Clearly, the organization pulled the trigger on the trade in part due to the potential for gaining an exclusive bargaining window and recruitment opportunity.

    Of course, the timing of all this is less than clear. Mozeliak did say that the first step would be to allow Goldschmidt to settle in with the club in Spring Training. Then? “Ultimately, we’ll sort of, as we round the first turn, get a better idea of what the second turn looks like,” said Mozeliak. Whether that will mean late-spring talks, negotiations during the season, and/or an effort to bring him back via free agency is at this point anyone’s guess.

    It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things progress. With just one year to go until free agency, Goldschmidt is tantalizingly close to picking his own team and likely commanding a massive new deal. He’s also already 31 years of age and plays a position that teams have increasingly hesitated to invest in. Of course, Goldschmidt is hardly a common first baseman, either.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Additional Moves, Martinez, Wainwright]]> 2019-01-21T15:26:07Z 2019-01-21T15:26:07Z There may not be another significant move on the horizon for the Cardinals this offseason, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak suggested over the weekend (link via Jenifer Langosch of “We don’t feel like there’s that one player out there that if we could target we’d go after if we’re patient enough,” Mozeliak said. The team surely wouldn’t broadcast its intentions even if one specific target of interest remained on the market, but it’s nonetheless notable to hear the Cards’ top decision-maker plainly state that he doesn’t “see anything that makes us want to change direction” when looking at the market of available talent. As Langosch notes, the Cards can still add some veterans on minor league contracts in hopes that someone forces his way onto the active roster this spring, but Mozeliak spoke like an exec who has completed most of his offseason shopping.

    More from St. Louis…

    • If the Cardinals do make a move, writes Mark Saxon of The Athletic (subscription required), they’d likely be zeroed in on versatile position players and bullpen help. “Theorizing that relievers and guys who play multiple positions are what we’re looking at is probably not the worst theory in the world,” said general manager Mike Girsch late last week. If anything, though, it seems that the Cardinals will be more opportunistic rather than setting their sights on one specific player to pursue him at all costs. Saxon does run through some remaining free agents who could hold interest, noting that Oliver Perez could make some sense “if the Cardinals don’t want to pay the asking price in trade talks with the San Francisco Giants for Will Smith.”
    • Girsch also spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ben Frederickson about the decision to hang onto Jose Martinez rather than trade him. “Other teams looked at it as a guy who was not a fit for us, and that maybe they could get him on the cheap,” said Girsch of the team’s exploration of the market for Martinez. The Cardinals, it seems, had little interest in weakening their 2019 roster by moving Martinez solely for prospects, knowing his bat holds significant value even in a more limited role. Martinez hit .305/.364/.457 in a career-high 590 plate appearances last year and is a career .309/.372/.478 hitter in 915 MLB plate appearances. Frederickson also offers up some quotes from skipper Mike Shildt about the manner in whcih Martinez will be used in 2019, with Shildt believing he’ll be more involved than a typical bench bat and specifically touting Martinez’s proficiency against left-handed pitching (.332/.408/.560). However, it’s clear that heading into the season, Dexter Fowler will be given a chance to reestablish himself as a viable option in right field.
    • Righty Adam Wainwright spoke at this weekend’s Winter Warm-Up event about his decision to return for the 2019 season (link via Langosch). The three-time All-Star was candid in discussing the pain he’s pitched through in recent seasons and also in talking about the unexpected rebound his arm felt late in the season. “I stopped feeling like my arm was going to break every time I threw the ball,”  said Wainwright, who also touched on the possibility of pitching in relief if he can’t secure a rotation spot in Spring Training. However, Langosch notes that the Cardinals’ plan is to give the 37-year-old a real chance to do so. If Wainwright is indeed on a “whole different level health-wise” than he’s been in recent years, as he says, then perhaps it’d be unwise to bet against him. Wainwright has a combined 4.77 ERA in 362 1/3 innings across the past three seasons but was, of course, one of the game’s premier arms for quite some time before that; he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 and tossed 695 innings of 2.99 ERA ball from 2012-15.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals, Miles Mikolas Interested in Extension]]> 2019-01-21T00:54:23Z 2019-01-21T00:54:23Z Right-hander Miles Mikolas is scheduled for free agency after the 2019 season, though both he and the Cardinals have interest in negotiating a contract extension.  Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the team has already been in touch with Mikolas’ agent “about what the framework would look like for an extension,” while Mikolas told Goold and other reporters that he would be open to a longer-term stint in St. Louis.

    It’s something that the Cardinals and my agency have to work out – if the numbers work out and everything turns out to be it’s absolutely something that could happen,” Mikolas said.

    Talks may not begin in earnest until the Cards open their Spring Training camp, which conveniently takes place in Mikolas’ hometown of Jupiter, Florida.  While most players prefer to have contract negotiations wrapped up before Opening Day in order to avoid distractions, Mikolas doesn’t mind if talks stretch into the season.  This could give the Cardinals some time to address other extension candidates, though GM Michael Girsch recently indicated that the team may take something of a wait-and-see attitude towards Marcell Ozuna, Michael Wacha, and Paul Goldschmidt — the latter because he has yet to play a game in a Cardinals uniform, and Ozuna and Wacha because of some injury concerns in 2018.

    Mikolas signed a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Cardinals last winter in the wake of a dominant three-year run in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, following an undistinguished 91 1/3 innings with the Padres and Rangers from 2012-14.  Mikolas’ second stint in the big leagues was, needless to say, a vast improvement over his first — the righty posted a 2.83 ERA, 5.03 K/BB rate, and 49.3% grounder rate for St. Louis, while his 200 2/3 innings pitched ranked tenth among all MLB starters.

    ERA predictors (3.28 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, 3.93 SIERA) weren’t quite as bullish on Mikolas’ performance, and he didn’t miss many bats, with only a 6.55 K/9 rate.  Still, Mikolas exhibited excellent control (a league-low 1.3 BB/9) and limited his hard contact, with a .271 wOBA and an only-slightly higher .283 xWOBA.  Mikolas turns 31 in August, though his arm hasn’t faced too much of a workload over 10 pro seasons, after Mikolas spent his first five seasons as a reliever.  Indeed, Mikolas has looked quite durable over the last two years, with just 200+ inning performance for the Cardinals and a 188-inning performance for the Yomiuri Giants in 2017.

    That first Mikolas contract has already proven to be a bargain for the Cardinals, yet Mikolas has also benefited since he has quickly lined himself up for an even larger payday, whether as a free agent next winter or in an extension.  Mikolas’ contract came without any allowance for his lack of Major League service time, so the Cardinals don’t retain any arbitration control over Mikolas even though he’ll only have slightly more than three years of MLB service time by the end of the 2019 season.

    The Cards haven’t been shy about locking up key players during John Mozeliak’s reign atop the baseball operations department, and Goold estimates that a Mikolas extension could fall somewhere between Kyle Lohse’s extension in 2008 (four years, $41MM) and the five-year, $80MM free agent pact Mike Leake signed with St. Louis in the 2015-16 offseason.  The Cardinals face losing Wacha in free agency and Adam Wainwright is year-to-year at this point, and while the team has a number of intriguing young arms in the fold, there’s certainly value in keeping a durable veteran like Mikolas amidst these more unproven rotation options.

    Mikolas’ unique career history makes him something of difficult player to find a comp for, extension-wise.  Mikolas might also feel a desire to lock in another big salary while his value is at its highest, rather than test what is becoming an increasingly hard-to-predict free agent market next winter.  Even if Mikolas pitches well for the Cardinals this season, it would be interesting to see what teams would offer a 31-year-old who doesn’t generate a ton of strikeouts, especially if the Cards were to issue Mikolas a qualifying offer in the fall.

    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[NL Notes: Rockies, Cardinals, Ozuna, Gregerson, Braves]]> 2019-01-19T20:20:57Z 2019-01-19T20:19:21Z The latest from the National League . . .

    • Following Thursday’s departure of reliever Adam Ottavino to New York, the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders spoke with GM Jeff Bridich about the state of affairs in the team’s bullpen. On the heels of last offseason’s months-long reliever binge, which saw the club devote nearly a third of its payroll space to the most fickle asset in the game, Colorado apparently couldn’t save room for dessert. The club didn’t offer Ottavino a contract, preferring instead to take its chances with the current crop: “We need last year’s decisions to pitch better than they did in 2018,” said Bridich. “It’s not a lack of talent or a sudden inability to perform well. But they need to do a better job.” Bryan Shaw, Mike Dunn, and Jake McGee, though, did exhibit a sudden inability to perform well, as the trio combined for an ugly -0.7 fWAR in 118 combined IP. Wade Davis, too, was hardly himself in ’18, stranding just 66.9% of baserunners – down from an MLB-best 87.5% from 2014-17 – en route to his lowest career output. Scott Oberg, who began the year in AAA despite being arguably being the team’s most effective pre-spree reliever, again paced the returning bunch, limiting homers at an elite rate and continuing to maintain a stellar walk rate.
    • President of baseball operations John Mozeliak provided injury updates on two key Cardinals during a Saturday chat with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who was bothered all season by a nagging shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery, hasn’t yet begun throwing, and the club “isn’t sure” if he’s taken hacks in the cage, either. Ozuna has spurned treatment at the club’s spring facility in favor of offseason rehab in his native Dominican Republic, which Mozeliak deemed “not ideal,” but the 28-year-old outfielder, who heavily regressed toward his established mean last season after a breakout 2017, has expressed no reservations about his outlook for the upcoming season. Reliever Luke Gregerson, who was limited to just 12 1/3 IP last season after a shoulder injury of his own, “hasn’t felt right” in offseason workouts, and the club isn’t anticipating much from him in Spring Training. The soon-to-be 35-year-old Gregerson has endured one of the game’s heaviest reliever workloads since debuting in 2009, accruing a staggering 611 IP over that span, and appearing in an MLB-high 623 games from 2009-17.
    • Per GM Alex Anthopoulos (h/t to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Gabe Burns on Twitter), the Braves have made an outfield acquisition their top priority at current, and a move “may be resolved soon.” The club, of course, has been linked to still-available A.J. Pollock (who would cost the team a second-round draft pick if signed) and the recently-departed Nick Markakis to fill its vacancy at one outfield spot. With an overflow of starting pitching talent in the upper minors, the team seems better positioned than almost any to fill its hole via trade, but has thus far shown little interest in doing so. The Blue Jay version of Anthopoulos was an ardent mover of minor-league assets, shuffling talent in all directions when circumstances dictated, but has been far more cautious in his short time with Atlanta. With a still-unsettled rotation mix, perhaps this strategy is prudent, but distancing his club from the ravenous NL East pack will almost surely require a return to old ways for the young Braves GM.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Alex Reyes]]> 2019-01-19T06:39:31Z 2019-01-19T05:52:16Z
  • The Cardinals still don’t have a defined timeline regarding right-hander Alex Reyes’ return from shoulder surgery, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The prized 24-year-old prospect has been throwing recently, and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak tells Goold that Reyes is “long-tossing without limitation.” The expectation, per Mozeliak, is that Reyes will progress to mound work within the next two weeks. However, he’ll also have an “individualized build-up” in Spring Training, and his return to pitching in a game setting will be determined based on milestones within that personalized program. Reyes has long been touted as one of the game’s most promising arms, but he’s never reached 120 innings in any professional season. Given that he’s already had Tommy John surgery and now last year’s shoulder surgery, one can imagine the Cardinals will be particularly cautious in getting him back up to speed.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[International Signings: Dodgers, Cardinals]]> 2019-01-15T18:14:33Z 2019-01-15T18:14:33Z Here are the latest reported deals on the international circuit …

    • The Dodgers appear to have a deal in place with Taiwanese right-hander Lin Hui-Sheng, with Liberty Sports reporting the news and CPBL Stats tweeting it along. It’s believed the youngster will secure a $300K to $350K bonus if and when he passes a physical. You can read more about this reputedly live-armed 20-year-old here, courtesy of CPBL Stats. Injuries seem to have interfered with Lin’s development to this point, but it seems the Dodgers will have an interesting new arm to work with.
    • Three Dominican teenagers are joining the Cardinals organization, per’s Jenifer Langosch. Righty Jesus Jaquez and outfielders Fernando Brazoban and Smith Vargas are said to be in agreement. There’s little public info on Jaquez and Vargas, but SB Nation’s A.E. Schafer dug up some materials on Brazoban. As he explains, and as an embedded video shows, the youngster appears to have some reasonably impressive physical tools to work with, though it’s certainly all but impossible to venture a reasonable guess as to his long-term outlook.