MLB Trade Rumors » » St. Louis Cardinals 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Sign Jason Motte To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-19T14:58:49Z 2018-02-19T14:50:50Z Feb. 19: Motte has passed his physical, as the Cardinals announced the signing this morning.

Feb. 16: The Cardinals have struck a minor-league pact with veteran reliever Jason Motte, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The agreement is still pending a physical. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first connected the sides on Twitter.

Motte, 35, rejoins his long-time organization after a three-year hiatus. The former Cards closer has spent time with the Cubs, Rockies, and Braves since the start of 2015.

There’s little question that Motte did not regain his prior form after missing all of 2013 for Tommy John surgery. The converted catcher had posted 192 1/3 innings of 2.43 ERA pitching over the prior three seasons at that point. Since, he has allowed 4.12 earned per nine over 137 2/3 innings, with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9.

Motte once averaged about a 12 percent swinging-strike rate and roughly 97 mph heater. Since returning from surgery, Motte has declined precipitously in both regards. He generated whiffs at a marginal 7.6% rate last year and averaged 93.8 mph with his heater.

To be fair, Motte found a way to succeed despite managing only 6.0 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in his 40 2/3 innings in 2017. He ended the season with a 3.54 ERA, after all. But there’s little reason to believe that Motte will be able to replicate a .200 batting average on balls in play.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres Claim Rowan Wick]]> 2018-02-16T20:04:03Z 2018-02-16T19:56:31Z The Padres have claimed right-hander Rowan Wick off waivers from the Cardinals, reports Dennis Lin of The Athletic (on Twitter). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had first reported that Wick, who was designated for assignment when the Cards signed Bud Norris, had been claimed by an unknown team (Twitter link).

Wick, 25, was drafted as a catcher and moved to the outfield before ultimately transitioning to the mound on a full-time basis in 2016. As one might expect, then, his body of work as a reliever in the minors is rather limited, but he’s shown some positive trends. This past season he split the year between the Gulf Coast League, Double-A and Triple-A, working to a combined 3.19 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Wick also issued 19 walks, hit two batters, balked twice and uncorked a pair of wild pitches, so he still seems somewhat raw on the mound.

The Padres aren’t strangers to the notion of trying to convert a position player into a pitcher, though, having gone through the process (albeit unsuccessfully) with former top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt in recent years. San Diego had an open spot on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move from the Friars won’t be necessary to accommodate the addition of Wick.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals To Attend Tim Lincecum Showcase]]> 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z
  • The Cardinals will have evaluators at Tim Lincecum’s showcase tomorrow, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link).  St. Louis will join at least 12 other teams in watching the former two-time Cy Young Award winner throw as he attempts a comeback after missing all over the 2017 season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Designate Rowan Wick For Assignment]]> 2018-02-14T15:40:58Z 2018-02-14T15:22:33Z The Cardinals have designated righty Rowan Wick for assignment, the team announced and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported (via Twitter). His 40-man spot will go to righty Bud Norris, whose previously reported signing is now official.

    Wick has yet to pitch at the game’s highest level. The converted catcher/outfielder was added to the 40-man in advance of the Rule 5 draft in the winter of 2016, following his first full competitive season on the mound. He was also tabbed to participate in the World Baseball Classic with Team Canada.

    Last season, Wick ended up spending most of his time in the upper minors as he worked to refine his new craft. While the hard-throwing righty was able to tamp down on the walk issues that plagued him in his first attempt at Double-A in 2016, he evidently did not show quite enough for the Cards to ensure they’d retain him entering camp. Wick ended the 2017 campaign with 42 1/3 innings of 3.19 ERA ball with 8.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals, Bud Norris Agree To Terms]]> 2018-02-12T18:59:15Z 2018-02-12T18:55:22Z 12:55pm: Norris is guaranteed $3MM on the one-year term, and the contract contains “significant” incentives, Rosenthal tweets.

    Interestingly, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Norris will also be given the opportunity to start in the event that the Cardinals decide one or more of their younger arms need time in the minors early in the season. He adds that Norris is expected to join the team Wednesday, which would suggest that we’ll know the corresponding 40-man roster move within 48 hours or so.

    9:50am: It’s a one-year, Major League contract for Norris, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo.

    9:41am: The Cardinals are in agreement on a contract with free-agent righty Bud Norris, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). His contract is pending a physical.  Norris is represented by Wasserman.

    Bud Norris | Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s not yet clear whether Norris, 33 next month, signed a Major League or Minor League contract, though the latter is a possibility following a rough finish to what began as a strong 2017 season. The 4.21 ERA that Norris authored through 62 innings last season doesn’t look overly impressive, but he was somewhat quietly dominant through the season’s first half; in 36 1/3 innings prior to the All-Star break, Norris notched a 2.23 ERA that was backed by a 2.96 FIP and a 3.21 xFIP. In that time, the starter-turned-reliever averaged 11.6 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 with a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate.

    However, Norris missed time in late June and early July with a knee injury, and upon his return, his success quickly deteriorated. Then the Halos’ closer, Norris improbably served up a pair of grand slams (being charged for all four runs in each instance) within a span of six days, ballooning his ERA from 2.23 to 3.89. Things didn’t get any better for him in the month of August, and he again hit the disabled list late that month due to inflammation in the same problematic right knee. Overall, Norris perhaps quite literally limped to a 7.01 ERA following the All-Star break and watched his K/9 (9.5), BB/9 (4.6) and ground-ball rates (41.8 percent) all go in the wrong direction.

    The Cardinals, though, could be heartened by the fact that Norris’ success out of the ’pen in the past couple of seasons has corresponded with a notable change in his pitch selection, as he’s largely abandoned his four-seam fastball in exchange for a cutter and sinker. If those changes and better health can allow him to sustain production more in line with last year’s first half than his nightmarish second half, then Norris could prove to be a bargain for a Cardinals team whose late-inning relief mix still looks to be rather unsettled.

    As things stand, Luke Gregerson could well head into the year as the closer, though St. Louis also picked up righty Dominic Leone from the Blue Jays in the Randal Grichuk trade, and lefty Tyler Lyons had a breakout year as a high-leverage reliever last season. Any from that mix could conceivably find his way into the ninth inning in 2018, as could righty Alex Reyes when he returns from Tommy John surgery (even though the organization views him as a starter long term).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Matt Carpenter's Shoulder Feels "Normal"]]> 2018-02-11T18:42:16Z 2018-02-11T18:42:16Z
  • The right shoulder issues that Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter played through last season are no longer hampering him, he tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s not in the back of mind, like it was, not at all,” he said. “It’s not limiting me in any way. I can go out and do whatever. It is as if everything is normal.” Carpenter’s shoulder made it a challenge for him to swing a bat in 2017, yet he still managed to amass 622 plate appearances and slash a terrific .241/.384/.451. Although, Carpenter’s production did drop off from 2015-16, a 1,231-PA run in which he batted .271/.372/.505.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Market For Lance Lynn]]> 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z Free agent hurler Lance Lynn has received interest from “seven or eight teams,” according to a report from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His former team, the Cardinals, is not one of them.

    Lynn, of course, declined a qualifying offer from St. Louis at the start the offseason. It seems the club is now content to allow him to leave, knowing that it’ll receive a draft choice after the Competitive Balance Round B selections so long as Lynn signs before this year’s draft.

    Clearly, Lynn is worthy of punting some draft compensation. But while the CBA’s new qualifying offer rules have generally put that matter on the back burner, parting with draft value is still a factor in any free agent case. (MLBTR has run down what draft picks each team would need to sacrifice to sign a qualified free agent such as Lynn.)

    As we’ve noted of late, Lynn has had a quiet offseason but remains an easy-to-visualize fit with quite a few organizations. Among the teams showing some level of interest, per Goold, are the Brewers and Cubs — two teams that are plenty familiar with Lynn from his lengthy stint with the Cardinals. The article also rounds up reported interest from other quarters, mentioning the Orioles, Twins, Nationals, and Mets as plausible suitors. Indeed, a run through MLBTR’s log of posts involving Lynn shows no shortage of possibilities.

    Lynn himself discussed the situation with Goold, though he declined to get into specifics on teams. You’ll want to read the entire piece, as it’s loaded with interesting information and discussion, but generally Lynn suggests he feels comfortable preparing as normal despite his lack of a contract. “I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “There’s nothing really to worry about — at this moment.”

    Goold also examines Lynn’s value against prior open-market players, suggesting the Tigers’ signing of Jordan Zimmermann — five years and $110MM, with strong no-trade protection — as a comp. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for that kind of analogy given Lynn’s bottom-line results, the view of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes — as explained first in the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents list and expanded upon in his free agent profile of Lynn — is that the veteran righty isn’t quite in that stratosphere, due in large part to concerns with the peripherals. MLBTR has pegged Lynn for a four-year deal in the $14MM or $15MM annual range, citing a variety of teams as plausible fits on paper.

    In large part, the overall market picture remains much the same as it was when Dierkes set out to evaluate things before the action got underway. Just how Lynn’s situation will shake out, though, is even more difficult to predict now than it was then. The overall tenor of Lynn’s comments, and Goold’s reporting, suggests that this free agent case is not particularly close to resolution.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Should Cardinals Consider Pursuing Lance Lynn?]]> 2018-02-07T16:19:31Z 2018-02-07T16:01:23Z
  • Of course, other organizations are arguably in a similar position with regard to Lynn. Even taking a pessimistic view of his future, he profiles as a quality back-end starter that would upgrade just about every rotation in baseball. Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argued recently that the Cardinals ought to be ready to grab Lynn — at least, if he can be had for a cheaper-than-expected contract. A similar sentiment has been batted around by Mets writers. (See, e.g., this post from John Harper of the New York Daily News and this Twitter exchange between’s Anthony DiComo and Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal.) No doubt an argument for the pursuit of Lynn could also be constructed for quite a few other teams, which is the sort of reasoning that supports at least some reason to believe that he and other mid-level free agents can still find significant contracts.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals An Unlikely Landing Spot For Moustakas]]> 2018-02-05T02:53:58Z 2018-02-05T02:53:58Z Third baseman Mike Moustakas ranks among most prominent victims of this year’s abnormal offseason, having not landed a contract three months after hitting free agency as one of the top players available. It’s unlikely Moustakas’ next deal will come courtesy of the Cardinals, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, even though they’ve been in on third basemen this offseason (trade targets Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson in specific). It appears the Cards will use Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter at third, per Ortiz, who adds that the team has informed Carpenter he’ll fill a super-utility role. The Cards are the second potential landing spot for Moustakas that has been downplayed in the past few days; Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested on Thursday that a match with Moustakas didn’t seem likely for a variety of reasons.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Hoping Alex Reyes Will Return May 1]]> 2018-02-03T03:57:45Z 2018-02-03T03:57:45Z
  • As he continues working back from February 2017 Tommy John surgery, Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes is in Jupiter Fla., throwing off a mound and facing hitters in live batting practice sessions, Jenifer Langosch of relays. The Cardinals are hopeful Reyes will be able to return to game action by May 1, according to Langosch. The highly touted 23-year-old figures to fill a bullpen role upon coming back, but the Cards continue to regard him as a long-term starter, per Langosch.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals, Edward Mujica Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-01T02:08:14Z 2018-02-01T02:08:14Z The Cardinals have agreed to a minor league contract with one of their former closers, bringing righty Edward Mujica back to the organization on a minor league contract, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The contract doesn’t contain an invitation to big league Spring Training, so Mujica will head directly to the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that the Octagon client would earn a pro-rated $750K base salary in the event that he does return to the Majors.

    Mujica, 33, has thrown just 6 1/3 innings in the Majors since the end of the 2015 season — all coming with the Tigers last year. The results weren’t exactly pretty, as he served up four homers and seven runs overall, though he did strike out seven without issuing a walk. The right-hander’s work with Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate last season was sound, as he delivered 56 innings of 2.57 ERA ball with 7.4 K/9 against a minuscule 1.4 BB/9 with a 39.5 percent ground-ball rate.

    That said, Mujica hasn’t shown much in the Majors since a strong run from 2011-13 with the Marlins and Cardinals. Pristine control helped him to a 2.93 ERA through 206 innings in that frame, but Mujica’s pedestrian strikeout tendencies always led metrics like FIP, xFIP and SIERA to forecast some regression in his future — and that proved to be the case in 2014.

    After signing a two-year deal with the Red Sox, Mujica turned in a solid but unspectacular 3.90 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent grounder rate in 2014. The 2015 season proved far worse, as he averaged just 5.7 K/9 against 1.3 BB/9 with a career-worst 1.9 HR/9 en route to a 4.75 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. Boston cut ties with Mujica early in the season, and he wasn’t much better after being picked up by the A’s.

    At his best, Mujica induces an average or better number of grounders with elite control and limited punchouts. If his Triple-A work in 2018 mirrors that of his fine output with Toledo in 2017, then it’s not hard to imagine him getting some innings in the Cardinals’ bullpen as injuries around the big league relief corps inevitably crop up. Mujica is hardly teeming with upside, but he’ll bring some experience to the Redbirds’ depth chart and can be reasonably expected to help keep their Triple-A bullpen competitive.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/29/18]]> 2018-01-30T02:29:21Z 2018-01-30T02:20:59Z We’ll collect the minor league transactions from today in this post…

    • The Cardinals have added right-handed starter Nestor Molina (no relation) on a minor-league contract, says Jenifer Langosch of Formerly a top prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, Molina is perhaps best known for being traded to the White Sox in exchange for Sergio Santos during the 2011-2012 offseason. The 29-year-old has never pitched at the MLB level, and has spent the bulk of the past two years pitching in the Mexican league. During the 2017 campaign, he pitched 152 2/3 innings across 23 starts to the tune of a 1.89 ERA. He’ll serve as an interesting depth piece for a Cardinals organization that has some question marks in its rotation, though it should be noted that Molina has only ever pitched four innings above the Double-A level.
    • The Brewers have re-signed 27-year-old second baseman Gabriel Noriega to a minors pact, the team’s player development account announced today on Twitter. Noriega’s spent ten years in the minors, shuffling between the Royals, Mariners, Brewers and Diamondbacks organizations. He’s hovered around a 50 wRC+ over the past two seasons in the upper minors. Noriega was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Mariners, and remained in the club’s farm system through the 2014 season.
    • The Nationals inked Reid Brignac to a minors pact that includes a spring training invite, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. Brignac, 32, has seen time at the major league level with the Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Rockies, Yankees and Rays while playing mostly at shortstop. Though he’s played below replacement level in each of the past seven seasons, Brignac has generally been an above-average defender. Perhaps that could be reason enough for Washington to look past his career .219/.264/.309 slash line and give him a shot at a utility infielder role.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Randal Grichuk From Cardinals For Dominic Leone, Conner Greene]]> 2018-01-19T22:13:42Z 2018-01-19T21:19:31Z The Blue Jays have agreed to acquire outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals, per a Toronto announcement. Righties Dominic Leone and Conner Greene will go to St. Louis in return.

    Grichuk becomes the second St. Louis player to move to the Jays via trade this winter, joining infielder Aledmys Diaz. Grichuk also joins Stephen Piscotty as young outfielders who have been swapped out in recent months. This time last year, that trio of departures would have registered as quite a surprise. As things developed, though, those players appeared quite likely to depart.

    The Cardinals entered the current offseason determined to upgrade a position-player mix that included quite a few useful pieces but relatively few high-level performers. With the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna, the Cards added a player they feel will take them to the next level. With Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham also expected to command near-everyday time, the move for Ozuna left Grichuk and Piscotty without obvious roles.

    Sep 8, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Randal Grichuk (15) against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Grichuk turned in a highly promising 2015 season, racking up 17 home runs and a .276/.329/.548 slash in 350 plate appearances. Even then, though, there were some signs of worry — in particular, a 110:22 K/BB ratio.

    Since that effort, Grichuk has faded. The right-handed-hitting outfielder is still putting the ball out of the yard at a strong rate. But he has only a .287 on-base percentage and league-average overall offensive output in his 920 plate appearances since the start of the 2016 season.

    That said, perhaps there’s still some upside in the bat; he’s still only 26 years of age, after all. And Grichuk continues to provide good value with his glove, generally grading as a slightly above-average performer in center and in the corners. While he’s not much of a stolen-base threat, Grichuk has also rated as a quality overall baserunner.

    [RELATED: Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart]

    Toronto will pick up three years of control over Grichuk, who’s slated to earn $2.6MM in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He’ll join an outfield mix that already includes a right-handed-hitting center fielder in Kevin Pillar, a corner righty in Steve Pearce, and two left-handed-hitting pieces in Ezequiel Carrera and newly-signed veteran Curtis Granderson. Some platoon matches are to be expected from this group; in that regard, it’s worth noting that Grichuk has carried fairly notable reverse splits in the majors. Of course, it’s still possible the Blue Jays’ outfield unit will undergo some changes before all is said and done.

    In return, the Cardinals will add some useful assets. Leone, a 26-year-old righty, has bounced around the league some but is fresh off of an excellent 2017 season. In 70 1/3 innings, he posted a 2.56 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He’ll join an increasingly deep relief corps that perhaps will still be boosted by another late-inning arm.

    [RELATED: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]

    Apr 7, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Dominic Leone (51) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Leone has had similar success previously — in his 2014 debut with the Mariners — but struggled notably in the ensuing two seasons. All said, though, there’s plenty of reason to think he’ll continue to represent a quality asset. In 2017, he delivered his average fastball at 94.9 mph, recorded a personal-high 14.5% swinging-strike rate, and tamped down on the homers that had come to plague him.

    Better still, the cutter-heavy Leone was equally effective against both righty (.208/.267/.357) and lefty (.181/.261/.366) hitters. The Cards will have the ability to control him for four more seasons. Leone reached arbitration as a Super Two, agreeing earlier this winter to a $1.085MM salary for the 2018 season.

    Greene is a notable part of the deal as well. Still just 22 years of age, Greene has long been credited with interesting tools. He is said to possess a big heater, quality change, and useful slider. That said, there’s still quite a bit of polish needed and questions persist as to whether Greene will make it as a starter.

    Last year, Greene struggled to a 5.29 ERA in his 132 2/3 innings at Double-A, managing only 6.2 K/9 against 5.6 BB/9 on the year. That showing obviously did not help his stock. Still, the Jays placed him on the 40-man roster at the end of the season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

    It seems reasonable to expect that Greene will be given another chance to work out the kinks as a starter in the upper minor. But he might also take up a place on the Cards’ relief depth chart.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Holland, Grichuk]]> 2018-01-17T23:26:03Z 2018-01-17T23:26:03Z
  • Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. wouldn’t comment on the chances of his team signing Greg Holland, writes Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but DeWitt generally expressed some trepidation about the notion of spending heavily (in either dollars or prospects) to acquire a “proven” closer. “[C]losers are not guarantees,” DeWitt said. “…It’s a hard job. You go over the history of closers, and it’s not particularly guaranteed that you’re going to get longevity, which you think you’ll get out of a starting pitcher.” DeWitt did acknowledge that he’d “rather give up dollars than players” in a general sense, but DeWitt’s full comments certainly don’t convey the sense that adding a high-profile arm for the ninth-inning is a top priority.
  • Frederickson also writes that outfielder Randal Grichuk is “not thrilled” about the notion of being a reserve option in 2018, though that’ll be the case barring an injury to one of Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham or Dexter Fowler. Grichuk didn’t complain about his role so much as voice a desire to prove that he can still be a significant asset and factor prominently into the Cardinals’ success. “I hope they feel confident in themselves, and you don’t want anyone doubting themselves, but hopefully they know I’m there,” said the outfielder. “And if I get an opportunity, I’m going to try to make the best of it and not look back.” Frederickson’s column features quotes from roughly a half-dozen Cardinals players as well as manager Mike Matheny and DeWitt.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Molina Plans To Retire After 2020]]> 2018-01-16T06:00:14Z 2018-01-16T04:08:58Z
  • Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is currently planning to retire after his current contract expires in 2020, he tells’s Jenifer Langosch. Molina says his body still feels up to the rigors of his typically large workload, adding that he has no plans to cut back on his playing time at the age of 35. There’s time, of course, for Molina’s mind to change on the matter of retirement. If he remains healthy and productive through the 2020 season and the Cardinals remain in contention, for instance, it’s not difficult to envision a change of heart. That said, Langosch notes that Molina sounded much more definitive on the matter this time around than he did a year ago when discussing his future after signing a three-year, $60MM extension that spans the 2018-20 seasons.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Exploring Further Improvements]]> 2018-01-15T13:45:28Z 2018-01-15T03:35:57Z
  • Cardinals president John Mozeliak informed the Associated Press and other media this weekend that they’re continuing to “explore” ways to improve, though he’s confident in their current roster. Mozeliak is “hesitant” to surrender prospects for players who are low on team control, the AP writes. The Cards did make that type of trade last month, though, acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna’s two years of control from Miami in exchange for four prospects. Ozuna discussed his reaction to the deal this weekend, telling Jenifer Langosch of and other reporters: “The first thing I heard [was] they were going to trade me to the Oakland A’s. I said, ’God, please, leave me over here.’ Then I heard they traded me to the Cardinals, and I said, ’OK, thanks.'”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Colome, Archer, Holland, Hicks]]> 2018-01-14T18:06:15Z 2018-01-14T18:04:58Z
  • The Cardinals were linked to Rays closer Alex Colome in trade rumors earlier this winter, though two sources tell Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team’s interest in Colome was “overstated.”  Chris Archer seems to be the Cards’ top target in regards to trade talks with the Rays.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Goold and other reporters that he is still “kicking tires” on some other bullpen options but he is overall comfortable going into the season with Luke Gregerson as the top closer option.  This could be some gamesmanship on Mozeliak’s part given that St. Louis has been exploring several relief options both before and after they signed Gregerson, though Gregerson collected 31 saves as recently as 2015 when he pitched for Houston.  In terms of other available relievers, the Cardinals have “at most, tempered” interest in Greg Holland.  Beyond the veteran Gregerson, the Cards also have several young arms in the pen and in the upper minors that could eventually factor into the ninth-inning mix.  Goold notes that hard-throwing righty prospect Jordan Hicks has drawn trade interest from other teams.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cards Were On Longoria's List Of Preferred Trade Destinations]]> 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z
  • Evan Longoria shared some interesting details about his trade to the Giants in an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday (as detailed by’s Daniel Kramer).  Though Longoria didn’t have any leverage in the form of no-trade protection or 10-and-5 rights, he said he “kind of gave them [the Rays] a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me,” specifically teams that “were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out.”  It isn’t known how much, if at all, Longoria’s list factored into Tampa’s decision-making, though the Giants were one of the teams included.  The Cardinals, another club linked to Longoria in trade rumors, were also on the third baseman’s list.  Longoria said he felt a trade was coming after a talk with Rays GM Erik Neander two weeks before the Giants deal was completed.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Gregerson, Archer, Longoria]]> 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z
  • The Cardinals’ current plan for their 2018 bullpen includes deploying the newly signed Luke Gregerson as their closer, president John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters on Saturday (Twitter link). They also plan to heavily rely on left-hander Tyler Lyons and get contributions from righty prospects Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley. Of course, with the season still a couple months away, the Cards could pick up another established reliever(s) to swipe Gregerson’s ninth-inning role in the coming weeks. They’ve been linked to the likes of Alex Colome and Addison Reed this offseason, though the latter came off the board Saturday when he agreed to join the Twins.
    • The Cardinals’ current plan for their 2018 bullpen includes deploying the newly signed Luke Gregerson as their closer, president John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters on Saturday (Twitter link). They also plan to heavily rely on left-hander Tyler Lyons and get contributions from righty prospects Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley. Of course, with the season still a couple months away, the Cards could pick up another established reliever(s) to swipe Gregerson’s ninth-inning role in the coming weeks. They’ve been linked to the likes of Alex Colome and Addison Reed this offseason, though the latter came off the board Saturday when he agreed to join the Twins.
    • In another tweet, Goold relays that the Cardinals turned their attention to Rays righty Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria after acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins last month. The talks between the two sides “weren’t fruitful,” Goold writes. Longoria is now out of play, having gone to the Giants in a late-December deal, though Archer remains one of the Rays’ prime trade candidates.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

    Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.

    Onto today’s landslide of deals…

    National League West

    • The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
    • Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
    • The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
    • The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
    • The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.

    National League Central

    • All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals,’s Jenifer Langosch tweetsMarcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
    • The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
    • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
    • Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
    • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

    National League East

    • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
    • The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
    • The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection.  Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
    • Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
    • The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Avoid Arbitration With Randal Grichuk]]> 2018-01-12T05:20:00Z 2018-01-12T05:12:47Z
  • The Cardinals have settled at $2.6MM with outfielder Randal Grichuk, Nightengale tweets. That falls just a bit shy of his $2.8MM projection. It’s not yet clear whether Grichuk will remain with St. Louis through to Opening Day, though at this point he’d be a part of a crowded outfield mix.
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    Matt Swartz <![CDATA[Arbitration Breakdown: Marcell Ozuna and Jose Abreu]]> 2018-01-11T00:38:07Z 2018-01-11T00:38:07Z Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available, for those interested.

    Marcell Ozuna | Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Before Marcell Ozuna reports for his first Spring Training as a Cardinal, he will have to start the potentially uncomfortable process of salary arbitration with them. Ozuna has quite a resume to boast, which is part of what made him so attractive to the Cardinals in the first place. He hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs last year, giving him few comparables among second-time arbitration-eligible players.

    My model projects a substantial raise for him of $7.4MM — all the way to a $10.9MM salary. This may be high, given the lack of exact historical comparables and the potential for an arbitration process to discount some of the home runs hit in a very high league home run environment (2017 set a record). That said, it still suggests that Ozuna is going to get a large raise anyway.

    Jose Abreu | Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    Jose Abreu had a comparable season, and his projection is accordingly similar. He hit .304 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs, making the primary difference in their cases the lower RBI total for Abreu. The White Sox slugger is projected for a $7.1MM raise instead of Ozuna’s $7.4MM, but he starts from a higher base salary and is therefore projected to land at $17.9MM.

    No other players in the past five years have entered arbitration with the elusive .300/30/100 slash line. However, several players did so in the prior five years, including Jacoby Ellsbury in 2012 (.321/32/105), Josh Hamilton in 2011 (.359/32/100), Matt Holliday in 2008 (.340/36/137) and Miguel Cabrera in 2008 (.320/34/119). Those players got raises between $5.65MM (Ellsbury) and $3.9MM (Cabrera), although both Hamilton and Holliday got raises above $5MM, thus making Cabrera the exception.

    It seems quite likely that Ellsbury, with 39 stolen bases to Ozuna’s one stolen base, would have a better case. However, the fact that Ellsbury’s case is six years old could put them closer together and could even put Ozuna and Abreu ahead. One thing that is important to note is that only Ellsbury got a one-year deal. The other raises mentioned above are part of multi-year deals, which are usually not very applicable in arbitration cases (although they could be in this scenario with few comparables).

    If we look for a player more recent, we might consider Manny Machado last year at .294/37/96. He got a $6.5MM raise and clearly looks like a relevant player. The home run environment difference in just one year is pretty limited as well.

    The record raise for a second-time eligible hitter belongs to Chris Davis, who got a $7.05MM raise after his .286/53/138 campaign in 2014. That would probably compare favorably to Ozuna’s numbers because of the home run difference, but the four years’ lag could render that number stale and push Ozuna and Abreu above him after all, as the model predicts. However, I think it may serve as a ceiling, leaving Ozuna and Abreu south of theor projections and slightly south of Davis.

    Charlie Blackmon hit .324/29/104 last season, but did so in Coors Field, so he might be seen as less impressive than Ozuna and Abreu. His $3.8MM raise is probably a floor, and perhaps not that close of one.

    I think it may be more likely that Ozuna and Abreu both get raises somewhere around $6MM. The triad of players with .300/30/100 slash lines and raises over $5MM back in 2008-12 are probably floors, whereas Davis’ raise seems like a ceiling. If that proves true, Ozuna might end up around $10MM instead of closer to $11MM, and Abreu might end up closer to $17MM than $18MM.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Edwards On Pham's Late Breakout]]> 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z
  • There’s little precedent for Tommy Pham’s enormous breakout season at the age of 29, writes SB Nation’s Craig Edwards. Pham posted a roughly six-win season for the Cardinals (5.9 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) last year on the strength of a .306/.411/.520 batting line through 530 plate appearances. However, he’d provided minimal value to the Cards over his first 136 games in the bigs after progressing slowly through the minor leagues. Edwards looks for historical context for Pham’s breakout, noting that there’ve been 48 outfielders with a WAR between five and seven in their age-29 season over the past 70 years. Of that group, only three — Jose Bautista, Ryan Ludwick and former Tigers outfielder Charlie Maxwell — broke out with as limited a track record as Pham. It’s an interesting look at a unique breakout season that also attempts to gauge how Pham will perform in 2018 and beyond.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/5/18]]> 2018-01-06T05:53:20Z 2018-01-06T02:53:11Z Here are Friday’s minor moves from around the game…

    • The Rangers have inked a minor-league pact with right-hander Brandon Cumpton, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning news (Twitter link). Arm troubles have limited the 29-year-old of late, but he did return to professional action in 2017 after a two-year hiatus. Over 37 1/3 innings, Cumpton pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • As Cumpton leaves the Pirates organization, two other right-handers are on their way in, according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects. Tyler Jones and Bo Schultz have each joined the Bucs on minor-league arrangements, per the report. The former will be looking to crack the majors for the first time. He has often produced quality strikeout rates in the upper minors but only managed a 4.38 ERA in 63 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year with the Yankees organization. As for Schultz, the former Blue Jays reliever will be looking to return from Tommy John surgery. Schultz turned in a useful 2015 season but faltered in the ensuing season — he worked to a 5.51 ERA in his 16 1/3 MLB innings — before going under the knife.
    • Righty William Cuevas will join the Red Sox organization on a minor-league pact, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 27-year-old has spent the bulk of his career in the Boston organization but played elsewhere in 2017. He worked to a 4.85 ERA in 104 Triple-A frames in 2017, with 7.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. Cuevas has twice cracked the majors, but only briefly.
    • Yet another right-handed hurler, Preston Guilmet, is heading to the Cardinals on a minors deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. He’ll get a spring invite and can earn at a $600K rate in the majors. The 30-year-old Guilmet has seen parts of three seasons in the majors but only has 23 career innings at the game’s highest level. He has put up some interesting results of late, though, posting a 2.77 ERA with 10.8 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2016 before heading to Japan and running a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 54 2/3 innings for the Yakult Swallows (over four starts and 28 relief appearances).

    Earlier Updates

    • The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with former Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Kozma, 30 in April, split the 2017 season between the Rangers and Yankees organizations and logged 51 plate appearances in the Majors, though he batted just .111/.200/.178 in that small sample. Long considered an excellent defender with a light bat, Kozma is a career .215/.282/.285 hitter in parts of six MLB seasons but also comes with a career +11 Defensive Runs Saved mark and +9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1450 innings at shortstop.
    • The Braves announced yesterday that right-handed reliever Luke Jackson cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Rangers system, the now-26-year-old Jackson posted an ERA north of 6.00 and walked 16 batters in 24 1/3 innings with Gwinnett last season. He actually performed better in the Majors, logging a 4.62 ERA in 50 1/3 frames, albeit with pedestrian averages of 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 45.2 percent grounder rate. Jackson does have a history of missing bats in the upper minors and did average 94.7 mph on his heater last year while running up a 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate, so there’s some hope that he could yet figure things out.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Sign Steven Baron To Minors Pact]]> 2018-01-03T05:02:50Z 2018-01-03T05:02:17Z
  • The Cardinals have added backstop Steven Baron on a minors pact, according to’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). (As she also notes, and we covered previously, the club also added catcher Francisco Pena.) Baron, 27, was the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 draft, but he has never hit much at all in the minors and has only minimal MLB experience. Still, he’ll represent another upper-level depth option for the Cards, who’ll become his first organization other than the Mariners. Baron spent most of 2017 at Triple-A, where he slashed .256/.339/.329 in 187 plate appearances.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Rumblings: Arrieta, Darvish, Cobb, Cole, Yelich]]> 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z The latest on the North Siders comes from Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago

    • To this point, the Cubs and Cardinals have shown the most interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, according to Levine. The Cubs reportedly may be willing to offer a four-year, $110MM contract to the soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta, who mostly thrived with the team from 2013-17.
    • Elsewhere on the pitching market, the Cubs remain in contact with Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb, per Levine, though he casts doubt on them being the favorites to sign the latter. They’re wary of Cobb’s asking price, which appears to be in the $17MM to $19MM range per annum, Levine relays.
    • Along with the previously reported Chris Archer, the Cubs are interested in swinging a trade for Pirates righty Gerrit Cole, Levine writes. This is the first reported connection of the offseason between the Cubs and Cole, who has mostly been linked to the Yankees. Talks between the Yankees and Pirates simmered last month, though, which could pave the way for another team to swoop in and land the 27-year-old. Given that Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the same division, the Cubs are obviously quite familiar with Cole. The Scott Boras client is under control for the next two seasons, and he’ll earn a projected $7.5MM in 2018.
    • Looking beyond starting pitching possibilities, Levine doesn’t rule out more additions to the Cubs’ bullpen or position player group. With Wade Davis having signed with the Rockies, the Cubs could be in the market for a closer if they don’t want to turn the ninth-inning reins to either of the just-signed Brandon MorrowSteve Cishek tandem or another in-house option. But whether the team bids on a top free agent like Greg Holland or Addison Reed could depend on how much spending room it has left after it picks up another starter, per Levine. Further, it’s possible the Cubs could try to trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who would likely cost them fellow center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in a deal, Levine contends. He also lists free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain as a name to watch for the Cubs.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals "Still Involved" On Eric Hosmer]]> 2018-01-03T13:24:34Z 2018-01-02T19:29:31Z
  • The Cardinals still seemingly have a wide array of potential targets as they aim to continue adding bats to their lineup (among other possibilities for improvement). Per Jon Morosi of, via Twitter, the Cards shouldn’t be counted out on Hosmer. According to the report, St. Louis “remain[s] involved” on the first bagger, with Morosi noting the club could conceivably then bump Matt Carpenter to third base. From an outside perspective, that still seems like a hefty investment for the potential reward, particularly since the organization decided just last year to shift Carpenter across the diamond — in part, at least, to improve the defensive situation at third. With Jedd Gyorko coming off of a strong two-way campaign at the hot corner, Kolten Wong still occupying second, and a pair of young options on hand at first (Jose Martinez and Luke Voit), there are some other components at play here for the Cards. Presumably, the addition of Hosmer would mean a trade involving one or more of those existing players.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Added Much-Needed Middle-Infield Depth In Piscotty Swap]]> 2018-01-02T18:38:03Z 2018-01-02T05:41:37Z
  • The Cardinals’ recent trade of outfielder Stephen Piscotty was designed, in part, to make way for the team’s addition of Marcell Ozuna. At the same time, as Derrick Goold writes for Baseball America, the deal brought in some much-needed middle-infield depth. Youngsters Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock now sit atop the org’s prospect chart at shortstop and second base, respectively. The complexities involved in these two deals (and a few other related negotiations that did and did not come to fruition) serve to illustrate how many moving pieces can be involved in trade talks.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Cardinals' Interest In Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-20T23:57:06Z 2017-12-20T23:56:39Z
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinals perhaps have some cause to believe the Blue Jays are willing to consider moving star third baseman Josh Donaldsonper Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He suggests there’s some indication from the Jays side that the team isn’t dead-set against a move if it brought back MLB pieces as well as prospect value. To an extent, the Toronto organization has something of the opposite problem that the Cards do: the former needs multiple assets while the latter is loaded with solid players but would like a few premium pieces. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had posited this sort of scenario a few weeks back.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Red Sox, Hosmer, Royals, Cards, Donaldson, Mets, Kipnis, A-Gon]]> 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.

    • Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
    • The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
    • While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
    • The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Manny Machado Rumors: Monday]]> 2017-12-18T15:13:28Z 2017-12-18T14:57:42Z Just days after the Giancarlo Stanton trade saga came to an end, the Orioles reportedly made Manny Machado available and began asking teams around the league for offers on the 25-year-old superstar. Here’s the latest chatter on Machado as the Orioles field interest in the best player in recent franchise history…

    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes a lengthy look at the market for Machado (subscription required and strongly recommended), reporting that trade offers from interested parties improved over the weekend and that a deal could happen this week. Specific details on each club’s offers, of course, aren’t fully known, though Rosenthal reports that the D-backs included young infielder Brandon Drury as part of their package. Rosenthal provides an overview of how seven Machado suitors could make a deal work, though he notes that there’s still a general doubt among his sources that Orioles owner Peter Angelos would green-light a deal sending Machado to the Yankees.
    • Dan Connolly of paints a bit of a different picture regarding Angelos, writing that it’s possible Angelos could be swayed into approving a deal sending Machado the Bronx. Angelos, Connolly writes, solicits opinions from a wide array of trusted confidants and advisors — so many so that there are often conflicting opinions. A lack of consensus among that inner circle may have been what ultimately quashed this past July’s would-be Zach Britton trade to the Astros, per Connolly. However, Connolly hears that there’s a general sense within the organization that a deal will get done, and an organizational consensus could dissuade Angelos from interfering with any agreement, regardless of the trade partner in question. Within that same piece, Connolly also explores how the Machado situation could be slowing Baltimore’s other offseason endeavors.
    • The Cardinals have been oft-linked to Machado, though president of baseball operations John Mozeliak implied in an appearance on KMOX Sports radio in St. Louis this morning that he’d have a hard time making a deal for Machado (Twitter link via KMOX’s Tom Ackerman). Said Mozeliak: “If you’re trading away two to three prospects that have a combined 18 years of control… for one [year]? That doesn’t sit well with me.” That, of course, doesn’t preclude a deal from coming together — Mozeliak did trade four pieces for two years of Marcell Ozuna — but it does seem to suggest that the Cards would have a hard time deciding to outbid the field to secure the rights to Machado’s 2018 season.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Cardinals' Search For Impact Hitter]]> 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z
  • The Cardinals typically prefer to acquire controllable players, notes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, though “it remains possible” the win-now club will swing a deal for one year of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson or the Orioles’ Manny Machado. The Redbirds and Blue Jays continue to discuss Donaldson, according to Goold, but he’s the latest to point out that the Jays don’t seem motivated to move him.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-17T15:10:42Z 2017-12-17T15:10:02Z SUNDAY: The White Sox and Diamondbacks had shown the most interest in Machado as of Saturday morning, Olney heard from AL sources.

    THURSDAY: Trade winds continue to swirl around Manny Machado, as the Orioles’ apparent willingness to consider dealing its star third baseman was one of the major storylines of the Winter Meetings.  The Orioles have received ten “legitimate offers” for Machado, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports, though the quality of those offers and the number of teams involved may be hampered by Baltimore’s refusal to allow a 72-hour window for a new team to talk to Machado’s agents about a possible extension.

    The Cardinals didn’t make “a formal offer” due to that lack of negotiating period, and the White Sox (previously thought to have made the strongest of all the offers) apparently didn’t include any of their top prospects in their proposal, Nightengale reports.  Two executives said that Chicago made its offer with the belief that the Sox would only have Machado for the 2018 season.

    One major factor influencing talks is Baltimore owner Peter Angelos’ insistence that Machado not end up with the Yankees in 2018.  This naturally rules out a direct trade with New York, though Angelos also doesn’t want a scenario where Machado is dealt to a team that would flip him to the Yankees for prospects, be it before the July trade deadline or even later this offseason.  These parameters would seem to limit the Orioles’ list of potential trade partners to only contending teams, and maybe even to contenders that would seemingly have no chance of a midseason collapse and subsequent deadline fire sale (though obviously one can’t know for sure what would-be contenders could be in for a nightmare season, a la the 2017 Giants.)

    The White Sox aren’t expected to contend for even a couple of seasons yet, and thus would seem like potential candidates to deal Machado in order to further hasten their rebuild.  The Sox are apparently willing to address Angelos’ concerns, as Nightengale writes that “if the Orioles even wanted it in writing that they’d keep him around until at least mid-summer,” Chicago would be fine with that assurance.  This would be quite an unusual type of trade provisio, of course, and one that Angelos may still not be fine with if he wants to eliminate any chance of Machado wearing Yankee pinstripes in 2018.

    Beyond the teams already reported as having interest in Machado, the Diamondbacks are also in the mix,’s Buster Olney tweets.  Arizona “checked in” on the Machado talks, though it isn’t clear if the D’Backs were just performing due diligence or if they were one of the clubs who made Baltimore an offer.  Machado would seem to be something of an unlikely fit for a D’Backs team that doesn’t have the payroll space to afford Machado’s $17.3 projected salary for 2018, though they could clear some of their own pricier arb-eligible players off the books by sending them back to the O’s.  Patrick Corbin, for instance, would be an upgrade for the Orioles’ rotation, while Jake Lamb would replace Machado at third base and give some much-needed left-handed balance to Baltimore’s lineup.

    MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently took a broad look at the Machado situation, gauging all 29 other teams by how plausible they seem as contenders to actually land the star infielder.  Needless to say, Angelos’ specifications would seem to narrow an already thin market, since there aren’t many teams willing to meet the Orioles’ big asking price (reportedly two controllable starting pitchers) for just a year of Machado’s services.  Adams listed both the White Sox and Diamondbacks as “out of the picture” candidates, so their chances of working out a deal could be even more remote given Angelos’ wariness of any “creative” follow-up trades a Machado suitor could make.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Rumors: Schoop, Mancini, Givens, Machado, Cards, Duffy]]> 2017-12-17T14:55:10Z 2017-12-17T14:33:31Z The latest on the Orioles comes in a pair of articles from Roch Kubatko of…

    • It’s unclear how many “untouchable” players the Orioles have, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop, outfielder Trey Mancini and reliever Mychal Givens are among them, an executive from outside the organization told Kubatko at the Winter Meetings. The lone player of those three who’s not under control for the long haul is Schoop, who has two arbitration-eligible years remaining. The Orioles will attempt to extend him sometime soon, Kubatko suggests. Mancini is controllable for the next half-decade, including two pre-arb campaigns, while Givens is under wraps for four more seasons (he’ll be eligible for arbitration in a year).
    • While talking Manny Machado with the Cardinals, the Orioles showed interest in a trio of right-handers – Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks – as well as catcher Carson Kelly, Kubatko relays. In acquiring Weaver and Flaherty, the Orioles would accomplish their goal of getting two major league-ready starters for their top player. Of course, it’s questionable whether the Cardinals would even part with one (let alone both) for a single year of Machado. Weaver held his own across 60 1/3 innings last season for the Cards, who may not be in position to lose another starter with free agent Lance Lynn likely set to depart, while Flaherty ranks as’s 48th-best prospect.
    • The Orioles are reportedly trying to acquire Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but Kubatko throws cold water on the possibility. Baltimore is indeed interested in Duffy, but it’s unlikely a deal with Kansas City will come together, in part because the Royals aren’t “aggressively shopping” the soon-to-be 29-year-old, Kubatko hears.
    • Although the Orioles are seeking a left-handed hitter, they don’t seem to have interest in free agent Jon Jay, per Kubatko. That differs from previous offseasons when Jay was on the O’s radar, he notes. Conversely, Baltimore could consider Preston Tucker, whom the Astros designated for assignment Friday.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Sign Luke Gregerson]]> 2017-12-18T17:17:21Z 2017-12-16T19:24:12Z Dec. 16: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets a breakdown of Gregerson’s contract. The reliever is guaranteed $5MM in both 2018 and 2019, with a vesting option for 2020 that requires him to appear in either 60 games in 2019 or 130 games total in 2018 and 2019 combined. It also appears as though he must be healthy for the option to vest on the latter condition. Gregerson can earn up to $1MM in incentives.

    Dec. 13: The deal is now official, Jenifer Langosch of tweets.

    Dec 10: The Cardinals and free agent reliever Luke Gregerson have agreed to a two-year, $11MM contract with an option, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). It’ll be a $5MM club option or a $6MM vesting option (with a $1MM buyout), Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The option will vest at 60 games in 2019 or 130 games from 2018-19, Nightengale adds. He’ll make $5MM in both guaranteed years of the pact, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    Luke Gregerson [RELATED: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]

    The deal is pending a physical, which Gregerson will take Tuesday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Gregerson is an O’Connell Sports Management client.

    This will be the second stint with the St. Louis organization for the right-handed Gregerson, whom the Cardinals selected in the 28th round of the 2006 draft. Gregerson never got past the Double-A level during his first go-around with the franchise, though, as the Redbirds traded him to the Padres in 2009 in a deal involving shortstop Khalil Greene.

    Gregerson made his major league debut the same year of the trade and quickly became a highly effective member of the Padres’ bullpen. He stuck with the Friars through 2013 before pitching for the Athletics (2014) and Astros (2015-17). Although the 33-year-old Gregerson has never been a hard thrower, he has nonetheless registered excellent numbers across 599 innings, with a 3.02 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 2.55 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent groundball rate. Gregerson has been quite durable along the way, having never pitched fewer than 55 2/3 frames in any season, and he brings experience as a setup man and a closer.

    Although Gregerson is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-worst 4.57 ERA as a member of the title-winning Astros, his year wasn’t devoid of positives. With 61 innings, he eclipsed the 60-frame mark for the sixth time. Gregerson also continued to put up appealing strikeout, walk and groundball numbers (10.33, 2.95 and 50.0 in those respective categories), and he notched the third-highest swinging-strike rate of his career (15.6 percent).

    If the career-worst home run-to-fly ball rate (23.6 percent) Gregerson logged in 2017 proves to be an aberration, he should be a quality piece for a Cards bullpen in need of aid. With Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Juan Nicasio and Zach Duke currently on the open market, St. Louis has been on the lookout for relief help since last season concluded. Gregerson may be the first of multiple pickups this offseason for the club’s bullpen, and he’s clearly the most established member of a group that includes a few solid holdovers in Brett Cecil, Tyler Lyons, Matthew Bowman, Sam Tuivailala and John Brebbia.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Pitching Notes: Cardinals, Chavez, Stammen, Rodney]]> 2017-12-16T16:53:40Z 2017-12-16T16:47:48Z John Mozeliak (President of Baseball Operations for the Cardinals) expressed that he’s content with his club’s rotation, via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and the recently-signed Miles Mikolas are likely to occupy the first four spots in the rotation. Mozeliak says that a lot depends on how Adam Wainwright looks; however, John Gant and Tyler Lyons could also be in the mix. Mozeliak feels as though the Cards are “fine,” which would seem to make it less likely that St. Louis will be in the mix for big names such as Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.

    More pitching notes from around the league…

    • Free agent Jesse Chavez has offers from five different MLB clubs to fill a starter/long reliever role, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, adding that the right-hander is expected to make a decision this weekend. Chavez pitched 138 innings for the Angels in 2017, and although his 5.35 ERA seems somewhat uninspiring, his 4.43 xFIP suggests he might have pitched a bit better than the surface results indicate. He also walked fewer than three batters per nine innings for the third season in a row. In addition to the Angels, Chavez has pitched for the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Royals and Pirates over the course of his ten-year big league career.
    • The Reds have recently spoken with right-hander Craig StammenMark Sheldon of reports. Sheldon notes that Stammen is a product of the University of Dayton, which is within an hour of Cincinnati. The 33-year-old reliever tossed 80 1/3 innings across 60 appearances for the Friars in 2017, posting a 3.14 ERA. Stammen began his big league career as a starter for the Nationals, but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since 2011.
    • Before choosing to sign with the Twins, Fernando Rodney had offers from three other big league clubs. The Rangers, Mets and Tigers all tried to sign the right-hander, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Rodney will reportedly have a chance to hold down the closer role in Minnesota this season; he can earn up to $6MM if he meets incentives in his contract, which includes a club option for the 2019 season.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Acquire Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-14T19:31:49Z 2017-12-14T19:30:26Z TODAY: The move is official, with Miami announcing it.

    YESTERDAY, 5:05pm: The Marlins will also receive pitching prospects Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano, per Spencer (Twitter link). Gallen, a 22-year-old righty, ranks as the Cardinals’ 13th-best prospect at The outlet did not rank Castano among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects, on the other hand. The 23-year-old left-hander, a 19th-round pick in 2016, spent last season at the low-A level and posted a 2.57 ERA, 8.01 K/9 against 1.29 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent groundball rate over 14 starts (91 innings).

    4:35pm: Sierra is in the deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter.

    1:54pm: There are three other prospects in the deal, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. But those are lesser assets and Alcantara is considered the centerpiece of the swap.

    1:12: Young righty Sandy Alcantara is going to Miami in the deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Goold had mentioned his possible inclusion; Alcantara was slated to join the Fish in the scuttled Stanton deal.

    Alcantara, 22, reached the majors briefly in 2017 as a reliever, but he’s seen as a high-ceiling starting prospect. Over 125 1/3 Double-A innings in his first attempt at the upper minors, Alcantara posted a 4.31 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. We did not learn much from his first eight appearances in the majors, but Alcantara did show a 98+ mph fastball and generated swings and misses at a robust 17.4% rate.

    12:49pm: It sounds as if young arms will make up a significant part of the return, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting the package will include multiple pitchers and a position player. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds some more detail, saying the Cards “offered a pitching prospect as the centerpiece of a deal” and that an outfielder will be among the players changing hands.

    12:06pm: The Cardinals have struck a deal to acquire outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter).’s Jesse Sanchez confirms the move on Twitter but notes it is pending a physical. Indications earlier today were that the deal was moving closer, and it has evidently now been completed.


    Ozuna, who turned 27 earlier in the offseason, is projected by MLBTR to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. At his age and with his track record of productivity, that’s a bargain rate of pay — which, no doubt, will be reflected in the still-unknown trade return for Miami.

    While the teams had attempted to line up on a deal for slugger Giancarlo Stanton, those efforts were nixed when Stanton declined to waive his no-trade clause to go to St. Louis. But the talks weren’t for naught: they also paved the way to today’s reported agreement on Ozuna, who has no trade protections.

    The Cardinals have looked far and wide for bats this winter as they seek to consolidate a broad group of talent into a few more premium lineup pieces. Ozuna certainly represents the top-end bat they were in search of — at least, that is, so long as he can replicate something like his 2017 output.

    In the just-finished campaign, Ozuna drove the ball out of the yard 37 times, carried a personal-high 9.4% walk rate, and ended with an appealing .312/.376/.548 slash line over 679 plate appearances. That’s a big step forward for a player who had hewed closer to league-average production over his prior two seasons.

    Beyond the fact that Ozuna has not yet repeated that level of output, there are a few other slight red flags. He carried a .355 BABIP that’s unlikely to be replicated and was perhaps a bit fortunate to send 23.4% of the fly balls he hit out of the park. On the whole, though, Ozuna has always been considered a player with the talent for this sort of dominance, and his healthy 39.1% hard-hit rate shows he was rewarded for making good contact.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Cards plan to utilize Ozuna, who has previously spent time in center field but shifted to the corner in 2017. He graded quite well upon the move and has at times done the same up the middle. That leaves the team with a variety of players who could be described similarly in regard to their glovework.

    Odds are, the Cardinals will plan to give primary time to Ozuna, Tommy Pham, and Dexter Fowler. Perhaps which player plays center is less important than the fact that the club will feel it has three useful defenders on the grass. Regardless, that would leave Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk among those looking at possible reserve duty.

    More likely, one or both will be traded. Piscotty and Grichuk, after all, both hit from the right side — as do the three top outfielders (with Fowler representing switch-hitting option who fares better traditionally from the right side). Indeed, the Cards could move yet more pieces from a 40-man roster that is full of right-handed-hitting outfielders, some of whom could be included in this trade. The only southpaw-swinging outfield bat currently on hand is youngster Magneuris Sierra. He might be destined for some added seasoning, so perhaps it’s not inconceivable that St. Louis could end up seeking another reserve piece that hits from the left side or perhaps look for creative ways to boost the functionality of the team’s infielders.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Red Sox, Machado, White Sox, Cards/Donaldson, Jays/Cain, Mets]]> 2017-12-14T17:45:32Z 2017-12-14T17:43:19Z The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.

    That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:

    • Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
    • For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
    • While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
    • Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
    • While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Acquire Stephen Piscotty]]> 2017-12-14T17:17:59Z 2017-12-14T15:58:17Z The Athletics have officially acquired outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals. Minor league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock will head back to St. Louis in the swap.

    Sep 7, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) singles during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Piscotty, who seemed like a shoo-in to leave the Cardinals via trade entering the offseason, became especially superfluous to the Redbirds when they swung a blockbuster to acquire fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins on Wednesday. That deal left the Cardinals with three highly qualified starting outfielders in Ozuna, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham, thus leading to the end of Piscotty’s tenure with the club.

    [RELATED: Updated Athletics Depth Chart]

    Now 26, Piscotty joined the St. Louis organization as a first-round pick in 2012 and flashed moments of brilliance during his short major league stint there. Between his debut in 2015 and the end of the ’16 campign, the right-handed hitter slashed a terrific .282/.348/.467 with 29 home runs and a 3.9 fWAR in 905 plate appearances. The auspicious start to Piscotty’s career was enough to convince the Cardinals to award him a six-year extension worth a guaranteed $33.5MM prior to last season.

    Unfortunately for St. Louis, early returns on the newly extended Piscotty weren’t positive in 2017. While Piscotty managed to significantly increase his walk rate to 13 percent (up from around 8 percent from 2015-16), his offensive production took an overall dive as he batted a disappointing .235/.342/.367 with nine homers and a subpar .132 ISO (down 53 points from the previous two seasons).

    The Athletics will now hope for a bounce-back from Piscotty, a Northern California native and Stanford alumnus. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the Cards hoped a Piscotty trade would give him a chance to be closer to his mother, who’s battling ALS, and they were able to make good on that.

    As Piscotty deals with a tragic situation off the field, he may be in line for a revival on it; his age, 2015-16 output and batted-ball misfortune are all encouraging signs. Piscotty finished 2017 with a .319 wOBA, but the number should have been closer to a solid .340, according to Statcast.

    If Piscotty does return to something resembling his best form in Oakland, he’ll be an effective, affordable and young piece for the low-payroll club. The A’s saw other position player building blocks in first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman come to the fore in 2017, and, barring trades, have established hitters on hand in DH Khris Davis, corner outfielder Matt Joyce, second baseman Jed Lowrie and shortstop Marcus Semien. Piscotty, who’s likely to play opposite Joyce in one of the corners next year, is now in line to join a growing group of talent on a rebuilding club.

    Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has long reported upon the A’s interest in Piscotty, reported yesterday that the deal was nearing completion and today that a framework was in place (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of FanRag tweeted the deal was in place, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported it was moving forward this morning, and’s Jane Lee tweeted the swap was official.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/14/17]]> 2017-12-14T09:59:38Z 2017-12-14T09:59:38Z Here are a few recent minor moves that took place amidst the recent flurry of major league rumors and transactions…

    • A source tells MLBTR’s Jeff Todd that Felix Doubront has agreed to terms on a contract with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. Doubront hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, though he did spend some time with the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s last season. His most successful MLB season came with the Red Sox in 2013, for whom he made 27 starts and two relief appearances spanning 162 1/3 innings. During that year, he compiled 139 strikeouts and pitched to a 4.32 ERA.
    • The Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-hander Zeke Spruill, TR Sullivan of tweets. Spruill is best known as one of the five players the Diamondbacks acquired from the Braves in exchange for Justin Upton back in 2013. The sinkerballer pitched a handful of innings across a pair of seasons with Arizona during his MLB career, allowing 16 runs in 34 IP. He’s spent the past two years pitching in Korea.
    • Unsurprisingly, yet another international prospect has been signed by the Rangers. Jesse Sanchez of reveals in a tweet that Texas has inked 16-year-old outfielder D’Vaughn Knowles to a deal for $500K. The Bahamian native will join Yenci Pena and Keithron Moss as international players to join the Rangers following Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels.
    • Outfielder Cesar Puello has signed with the Diamondbacks on a minors deal and will receive an invite to spring training (hat tip to Nick Piecoro of Puello made his major league debut last season; the outfielder accrued 39 plate appearances between the Angels and Rays. While his results at the MLB level were rather pedestrian, the Dominican native showed some impressive upside with a .397/.440/.620 across 200 plate appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake, the highest level of the Angels’ farm system. It should be noted that the above slash line came with a .493 BABIP.
    • Tony Pena’s son Francisco Pena has earned a minor league pact with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He’ll serve as an addition to the Redbirds’ catching depth. Pena has made MLB appearances with the Royals and Orioles, garnering 14 hits in 60 plate appearances (including three home runs).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Several Teams Have Reportedly Made Offers For Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-14T17:58:54Z 2017-12-14T08:53:43Z THURSDAY, 2:53am: Nightengale reports in another tweet that the Orioles are “moving aggressively” on trade talks involving Machado, noting that Baltimore believes they can move him by the end of the week.

    THURSDAY, 12:47am: Contrary to Rosenthal’s earlier report, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports via Twitter that the Cardinals have a “strong offer” in place for Machado, though it’s reportedly not as strong as White Sox’ proposal.

    THURSDAY, 12:20am:  Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (insider subscription required and recommended) reports that the White Sox have been the “most aggressive” suitor for Machado. Their goal seems to be to acquire him and attempt to extend him for the long term. Bob Nightengale adds in a tweet that the offer from Chicago was “the best offer of the dozen offers the Orioles have received.”

    Rosenthal also notes that the Giants offered the Orioles a package that included Christian Arroyo. The Cardinals also asked about Machado, but the price was apparently too steep for them.

    WEDNESDAY, 7:53pm: It doesn’t appear that a Machado trade will come together during the Winter Meetings, Encina writes.

    6:30pm: Several teams have made formal trade offers for Machado, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The Yankees’ chances of landing him are near zero, a source told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It seems the Yankees would want to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a a Machado deal to help them stay under the competitive-balance tax threshold, but Sherman doubts he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to Baltimore (Twitter link).

    4:33pm: The Orioles are “making good progress” toward a Machado trade, Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of and other reporters, though Dan Connolly of writes that a deal doesn’t appear imminent. There are more than five teams in the running for Machado, Ghiroli adds. The Orioles met with a “couple” of those teams Wednesday, per Encina. Notably, Duquette hasn’t dismissed trading Machado to another AL East team, Roch Kubatko of relays (all Twitter links here).

    TUESDAY, 6:27pm: The Yankees and White Sox are also interested in Machado, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  As mentioned below, Peter Angelos doesn’t want to deal Machado to New York, while the Sox are an interesting suitor that could be looking at Machado as the centerpiece of a return to contention.  Cardinals GM Michael Girsch told Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that giving up significant assets for a star player with just one year of control remaining is “not a path we are likely to go down.”  Interestingly, this description applies to both Machado and to another oft-mentioned Cards trade target in Josh Donaldson.

    4:29pm: “Several clubs” asked the Orioles about Machado today, Dan Duquette told’s Brittany Ghiroli (Twitter links), Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) and other media.  There’s at least a possibility a trade happens, and the Orioles have apparently not discussed an extension with Machado in years, though new negotiations are “under consideration.”  The O’s haven’t talked about giving any potential Machado trade partner a 72-hour window to try and negotiate their own extension with the infielder.

    1:43pm: The Cardinals have interest in Machado, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Phillies are said to be enamored of Machado, too, and there are no doubt a wide variety of other teams lining up to check on in the asking price. Baltimore is receiving a “ton” of interest in Machado, Rob Bradford of tweets.

    10:57am: While it’s been reported that the Orioles are at least willing to listen to offers on Manny Machado, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes things a step further, reporting that the O’s have asked interested parties to make them offers for the star infielder (subscription required and highly recommended). The term “infielder” is of particular note, as Rosenthal also writes that Machado’s desire is to return to shortstop in 2018 whether he’s in Baltimore or with a new club.

    Machado, 25, has long stood out as an on-paper trade candidate given his proximity to free agency and the Orioles’ lack of starting pitching. The O’s, who have been looking to add as many as three starters to their rotation this winter, will be hard-pressed to contend for an AL East title in 2018 (even more so in the wake of the Bronx Bombers’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton). With Machado set to hit the open market next winter in position to land a record-setting contract — assuming a healthy year, anything south of Stanton’s $325MM guarantee would seem to be a nonstarter — it’s difficult to envision him remaining in Baltimore. For the time being, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $17.3MM salary for Machado next year after his final trip through the arbitration process.

    The Orioles, per Rosenthal, are aiming to acquire two controllable young starters in any trade for Machado. That’s a lofty ask for a lot of teams, but a win-now club with an ample supply of touted but unproven pitching could look at that as an acceptable price to pay for a player that has been worth better than five wins per season, on average, over the past half decade (despite missing 80 games due to injury in 2014). Notably, Rosenthal adds that owner Peter Angelos does not want to trade with the division-rival Yankees.

    Machado didn’t have his best season in 2017, as he got off to a shockingly pedestrian start to the year. Through the season’s first three months, Machado was batting just .216/.289/.423 with an elevated (by his standards) 20.6 percent strikeout rate. Over the final three months, though, the Machado of old resurfaced, as he mashed at a .295/.329/.513 pace with a vastly improved 13.1 percent punchout rate.

    Machado has two Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove to his name at third base and has long graded out as an elite defender there, but there’s little doubt that he could still handle shortstop at an above-average level as well. He logged nearly 400 innings there in 2016, for instance, and drew generally positive marks from Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.9) and Defensive Runs Saved (+3).

    From a broader perspective, Machado is one of several players entering his final year of team control in Baltimore. Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach are all free agents following the 2018 season, while Jonathan Schoop is controlled for just one year beyond that. Depending on how aggressively the O’s are willing to sell off parts, they could quickly restock their farm with an ample supply of talent by marketing more than one of their soon-to-be free agents, though doing so would also mean largely punting on the 2018 campaign at the very least.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics, Cardinals In Serious Talks On Stephen Piscotty Swap]]> 2017-12-13T20:29:53Z 2017-12-13T20:28:59Z 2:28pm: Slusser has added a few more conceivable players in conversations in an updated version of her story. It seems that the sides could be contemplating some of the A’s relief arms.

    1:38pm: The dominoes from the Cardinals’ reported acquisition of Marcell Ozuna are beginning to fall, it seems. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics’ long-standing interest in Cards outfielder Stephen Piscotty could conceivably come to fruition with a deal before the Winter Meetings end.

    Oakland is not willing to part with its best young assets, according to the report, but Slusser says the discussions have revolved around some of the A’s available 40-man assets. One name under consideration, she notes, is infielder Yairo Munoz, a 23-year-old who reached the top level of the minors in 2017.

    Piscotty, who’ll soon turn 27, thrived in his first two seasons in the majors, posting a cumulative .282/.348/.467 slash and hitting 29 home runs in his first 905 MLB plate appearances. He ended up striking a six-year, $33.5MM extension at the start of the 2017 campaign.

    Things haven’t progressed as hoped since that time, however. Piscotty missed some time due to injury and ended the year with 401 plate appearances of .235/.342/.367 output through 401 trips to the plate. On the positive side, Piscotty did neary double his walk rate to 13.0% even as his power dipped.

    Piscotty continues to grade as a solid defender but subpar baserunner. If he can regain his form at the dish, there’s good reason to think he could be a quality regular in the corner — which is just what the A’s are in search of.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals & Marlins “Making Progress” On Marcell Ozuna Swap]]> 2017-12-13T17:57:55Z 2017-12-13T17:53:23Z 11:53am: It seems St. Louis is still not fully zeroed in on Ozuna — or, at least, not just Ozuna. In addition to some pitchers to whom the club has been tied previously, the Cards still seem to have some possible interest in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Rosenthal tweets.

    And Bob Nightengale tweets the team is “optimistic” of scoring at least one significant hitter with the possibility of another. He also cites Longoria and adds Blue Jays Josh Donaldson as a player who is “in play” for St. Louis, though certainly most indications to date have been that Toronto has little interest in trading him.

    11:22am: The Cardinals and Marlins are “making progress” on a deal that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). These organizations have been tied in chatter of one kind or another for much of the offseason.

    We heard yesterday that the Cards were the favorites to land Ozuna. As of that time, though, there were multiple other suitors reportedly still involved and the Cardinals were also eyeing fellow Miami outfielder Christian Yelich.

    It is still unclear just how things might come together, but there are quite a number of possible ways the sides could line up. The Cardinals have a host of young outfielders, potentially offering Miami a direct replacement with greater future contract control, along with the sort of youthful pitching that the Marlins covet.

    As for Ozuna, he’d be the major stick the Cardinals have sought all winter. While he’s not at the level of former teammate Giancarlo Stanton, he did post an excellent .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 long balls in 2017. And Ozuna is also much friendlier to the checkbook, as he’s projected to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. That relatively light payroll hit might leave the Cards with capacity to make some other impact additions via free agency.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Reds, Cardinals, Pirates]]> 2017-12-13T09:30:05Z 2017-12-13T09:30:05Z Though the Reds didn’t ultimately make Shohei Ohtani’s list of seven finalists for his services, the team put together a detailed presentation in hopes of luring the two-way star to Cincinnati. Mark Sheldon of wrote an insightful article detailing the Reds’ pursuit of Ohtani; the team shared the contents of its presentation with and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Despite the fact that they could only offer him a maximum $300K signing bonus, GM Dick Williams and the entire Reds organization believed they could come up with a pitch attractive enough to sway Ohtani in their direction. “I’d like us to think that we might have a chance. I’ve followed this kid,” Williams said at the the beginning of the process. “I think he’s wired differently. He’s clearly shown he thinks out of the box.” The baseball operations, business, creative services, and marketing departments all worked together to tailor a presentation that included a 120-page book and 12-minute video. One of Cincinnati’s selling points was having Ohtani pitch in a six-man rotation (something he was used to doing in Japan), while playing the outfield and getting at-bats as a pinch-hitter. The Reds pulled out all the stops, including the addition of testimonials from Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former MVP Joey Votto. Though they ultimately came up short, the release of the presentation’s contents to the media is generous to say the least, and provides a rare and fascinating insight into the player recruiting process.

    More items from the National League’s Central Division…

    • Although he cautions that the club isn’t necessarily on the cusp of a big announcement, Cardinals GM Michael Girsch says that the club has “some sense of optimism” regarding their pursuit of a big bat (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). The Redbirds seem to have a desired hitter in mind, and reportedly feel good about their chances of acquiring him. “We’re not at the goal line, but we’ve made progress,” says Girsch. While Girsch himself didn’t mention any specific names, Goold notes in the article that the Cardinals have been linked to Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna, while the Marlins have shown interest in St. Louis pitchers Jack Flaherty and Sandy Alcantara.
    • A hitter isn’t the only thing the Cardinals are pursuing. Recently, they’ve been linked to Rays closer Alex Colome as a potential means to fill a clear need at the back end of their bullpen. Somewhat intriguingly, Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Colome began following four Cardinals-related accounts on his Instagram on Tuesday night (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Drew Silva). It could be nothing at all; social media activity certainly doesn’t have a strong correlation with transactional news. But while there are no reports of a deal in place, the flurry of follows has piqued curiosity and stirred the rumor mill. At the very least, it gives us another reason to closely monitor an interesting hypothetical.
    • Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are exploring the idea of adding a fourth outfielder through trade or free agency, in order to allow Jordan Luplow to begin the season at the Triple-A level. GM Neal Huntington notes that Luplow “didn’t have a ton of at-bats down there a year ago.” Indeed, Luplow only has 87 career plate appearances at Triple-A, and his .205/.276/.385 major league slash line indicates that his bat could benefit from more development at the minors’ highest level. The 24-year-old Luplow was drafted out of California State University Fresno with the Pittsburgh’s third-round pick; the right-handed outfielder is 24 years old, according to Fangraphs.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Interested Wade Davis, Talked To Jays About Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-13T00:18:46Z 2017-12-13T00:13:56Z The Cardinals are one of the teams interested in free agent closer Wade Davis, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  With St. Louis focusing on bullpen additions this winter, it only makes sense that they would check in on top-of-the-market names like Davis who could immediately step into the vacant closer role.  In fact, Passan said the Cards are “prioritizing late-inning help” to go along with their other notable relief signing of Luke Gregerson.  The Cardinals have been heavy players in the offseason rumor mill, connected to several big names on both the free agent and trade fronts, and GM Michael Girsch is “optimistic” (per’s Jenifer Langosch) that the team is close to swinging a deal after progress was reportedly made in trade talks.

    • The Cardinals’ Winter Meetings activities have also included talks with the Blue Jays about a Josh Donaldson deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  St. Louis has been rumored to be interested in Donaldson for some time, though there is still no indication that the Jays are considering moving the former AL MVP.