St. Louis Cardinals – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-15T00:29:07Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor-League Pitching Signings: 11/14/18]]> 2018-11-14T16:50:26Z 2018-11-14T16:50:26Z We’ll use this quiet morning to catch up on a few recently reported minor-league signings of veteran pitchers that we haven’t yet covered (with a hat tip to Chris Cotillo of for noting them) …

  • The Dodgers inked righty Kevin Quackenbush to a minors deal, his representatives at Full Circle Sports Management announced. Quackenbush broke into the majors in intriguing fashion back in 2014, then gave the Padres two more seasons of useful innings, but has fallen off more recently. He was banged around in a brief MLB showing last year with the Reds, but did give the team’s top affiliate 47 frames of 2.68 ERA ball with 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.
  • Righty Jake Buchanan is heading to the Athletics on a minor-league pact, Melissa Lockard of The Athletic tweets. Now 29 years of age, Buchanan has seen action with three teams in the majors but has yet to command a significant opportunity at the game’s highest level. Last year, he struggled to a 5.17 ERA in 156 2/3 Triple-A innings with the Diamondbacks. Buchanan was originally an eighth-round pick of the Astros.
  • The Rays have a deal with southpaw Ryan Merritt, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Whether or not he makes it back to the majors, Merritt’s status as a legend was safely established when he turned in 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the Indians in the 2016 ALCS. Despite that stunning appearance, Merritt hasn’t seen much regular-season MLB action. That’s due in no small part to the fact that he has had knee and shoulder troubles arise. Merritt did return last year, rather unbelievably allowing only two walks, while recording 52 strikeouts, in his 71 1/3 Triple-A frames.
  • Southpaw Tommy Layne is going to the Cardinals along with former MLB starter Williams Perez, according to Josh Jones (via Twitter), Brian Walton of (via Twitter) and the Mariners Minors Twitter account (link). Layne, 34, has appeared in 216 MLB games over a six-year run at the game’s highest level, but hasn’t been there since 2017. He was quite effective in 29 upper-minors innings last year in the Cards system, working to a 1.24 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9, so he could compete for a job in camp. The 27-year-old Perez was a gap-filling piece for the Braves in 2015 and 2016. He, too, impressed in the upper minors last year, with a 2.45 ERA in 99 frames (mostly at Double-A) in the Mariners system.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Yankees, Padres, Gray, Athletics, Cards]]> 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z With the GM Meetings now wrapped up, the stage is set for the offseason action to get underway. Of course, we’re still waiting for some significant dominoes to fall … and everyone involved is no doubt curious to see how this year’s market will develop after the 2017-18 dud. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports cites some warning signs on spending levels; readers interested in the higher-level picture will want to give his reasoning a look.

While we wait for some hard data points to be set down, the just-completed meetings left quite a few rumors. We’ve covered many over the past several days; here are a few more worthy of note:

  • Though the Yankees seem unsettled at first base, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that they haven’t reached out to the Diamondbacks on slugger Paul Goldschmidt. The potential rental slugger, one of the game’s steadiest offensive producers, is reportedly on the trading block. While the Yankees got stunning production from Luke Voit over a brief stretch late last year, and still have Greg Bird on hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if they sought to add a bigger piece.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Bronx organization seems fixated first on pitching. Beyond its free agent targets, the club is looking into the biggest possible names on the trade market. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Yanks have opened a line of communication with the Mariners on James Paxton. And the New York delegation to the GM Meetings met with their peers from the Indians, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter), with Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both covered in conversation. It obviously isn’t at all surprising to hear that the Yankees have checked in on these distinguished hurlers, but it’s nevertheless a notable bit of information as the market continues to develop.
  • There are quite a few possibilities for the Padres, writes Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription link), as the organization is feeling a need to show some real strides in the win-loss department. We’ve heard chatter recently about the desire for a young starter and the series of potential trade pieces, but Lin’s most interesting notes seem to focus on the left side of the infield. Manny Machado is not seen internally as a realistic target, with Freddy Galvis still under consideration at short. If the team really wants to push things forward, though, Galvis or another veteran may only warm the seat up for top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. At third, Josh Donaldson does not appear to be the first name on the club’s list of targets. Rather, says Lin, the current plan is to seek a new third baseman via trade.
  • So, where have the Padres set their sights for a third baseman? There aren’t many obviously available options that would figure to represent everyday pieces. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently, though, that the Pads are interested in pursuing Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who recently posted a big campaign on the heels of what now looks to be quite a team-friendly extension. Given the Cincinnati organization’s inclination to begin pushing toward contention, that seems like a tough deal to swing for Padres GM A.J. Preller.
  • Acee also tabs the Padres as a suitor for Yankees righty Sonny Gray, who’s being openly marketed. Whether Gray would be seen as fulfilling the club’s rotation needs, or rather serving as a potential complement to a more significant addition, isn’t clear. There are other teams with interest in Gray, of course. Per’s Mark Feinsand, at least five organizations have inquired, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of more. Among those contemplating a move is Gray’s former employer. The Athletics evidently think their former staff ace could bounce back in Oakland, per Jon Heyman of Fancred. Of course, it remains to be seen how much the A’s will be willing to stake on a turnaround. Meanwhile,’s Mark Feinsand hears that at least five teams have inquired with the Yankees on Gray’s availability — the A’s presumably among them. Gray is projected to top $9MM in arbitration earnings this winter, but he thrived away from Yankee Stadium last season and had plenty of encouraging secondary metrics beyond his rudimentary ERA.
  • We’ve heard recently that the Cardinals intend to explore the relief market, with one southpaw on the team’s priority list. Accordingly, it’s no surprise to hear that the club is among the many teams to show early interest in veteran lefty Andrew Miller, as’s Jon Morosi tweets. Miller is drawing interest after getting some good news on his knee, so there’ll be no shortage of competition. At this point, it’s entirely unclear where he’ll end up.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Bryce Harper, Manny Machado]]> 2018-11-09T05:06:25Z 2018-11-09T05:06:25Z We took a look yesterday at some of the early chatter on Bryce Harper. While the early chatter has been less voluminous with regard to fellow superstar Manny Machado, there’s little doubt that he will have his moment as well. As the stage-setting GM Meetings draw to a close, let’s check in on some additional notes on the market’s most-hyped free agents.

  • Some eyebrows raised this evening when it was observed that the White Sox had unveiled a stage set at Chicago’s United Center featuring Bryce Harper’s name. As Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports explains, there’s no reason to think this was the beginning of the roll-out of a signing; our readers from the south side can safely inform friends and neighbors that there’s nothing imminent. More likely, it’s part of a recruiting pitch for the popular young free agent, who is in Chicago today. The news shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, clearly, but that doesn’t mean it’s of no consequence. Evidently, the White Sox are serious enough pursuers that they have secured an in-person visit and are putting resources into a pitch. That certainly dovetails with recent reports and public statements from the organization indicating that the club is looking to spend. It also bodes well for Harper’s market that a team such as the White Sox is making a run at him even after he reportedly turned down a $300MM offer to remain in D.C.
  • As for the cross-town Cubs, all indications remain that they do not see themselves as a contender for Harper’s services, as’s Jesse Rogers reiterates on Twitter. As Rogers puts it, if the club is “playing possum,” it’s “doing a heck of a job” at selling the act.
  • It remains to be seen what stance the Giants will take with regard to Harper, particularly as Farhan Zaidi settles into his new digs atop the club’s baseball operations department. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, though, agent Scott Boras certainly seems to see San Francisco as a viable landing spot for his client. Harper, he says, views the organization fondly — and would not only deliver value on the field, but off of it. As for the club’s viewpoint, it’s tough to say whether Harper will be deemed a sensible target. CEO Larry Baer said “there’s no restrictions” for his new top baseball decisionmaker; whether or not to join the bidding on Harper (or other hyper-expensive free agents) is “a judgment [Zaidi] is going to need to make.”
  • Of course, as Shea highlights, and Baer himself noted, that sort of outlay did not fit the M.O. of either of Zaidi’s prior two ballclubs — even those pesky division rivals to the south. Speaking of the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote recently that Harper is a player worthy of breaking the mold (and the bank) to acquire. Beyond his qualities as a ballplayer, Hernandez argues that Harper has the star power — and the right kind of attitude — to thrive in Los Angeles.
  • Interestingly, the Cardinals, per Jon Heyman of Fancred, “do not seem interested” in Machado despite seemingly lining up from the perspective of roster need. But there has been quite a lot of discussion in St. Louis circles as to whether Harper might be a target. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid out the state of affairs recently. The Cards, he says, are seen as “a factor” in the market for Harper. While some would write the St. Louis organization off due to a lack of monster contracts on their ledger, it’s worth bearing in mind that the club has entered significant bids for players such as Jason Heyward (see here) and David Price (see here) in recent seasons, and also sought to acquire Giancarlo Stanton last winter.
  • And what of the Yankees? The situation hasn’t really changed since last we checked in, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a crack at thinking through how things may play out. There’s little indication at present that the New York club has any real intention of going for Harper. But Machado makes for a much more intriguing roster fit, and could prove particularly tantalizing.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Seeking Corner Infield Bat]]> 2018-11-08T02:15:20Z 2018-11-08T02:15:20Z
  • The Cardinals are once again in the market for a big bat, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said at the GM Meetings that the current thinking is “more infield than outfield.” Goold notes that Bryce Harper would be one notable exception to that line of thinking, but the rest of the free agents the Cards currently like appear to be of the corner infield variety. Adding a third baseman or first baseman is plausible, given Matt Carpenter’s versatility. Goold adds that the trade market could present numerous alternatives, with players like Paul Goldschmidt potentially being made available on the trade market. The D-backs are reportedly open to entertaining offers for key players, and with just one year and $14.5MM remaining on his contract, it’s only natural that Goldschmidt’s name will be bandied about the rumor mill over the next few months as teams try to pry the perennial MVP candidate away from Arizona. That’s but one of many options, of course, as Goold explores at greater length in his column.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rick Ankiel Undergoes Elbow Surgery, Still Plans To Attempt Comeback]]> 2018-11-07T20:35:55Z 2018-11-07T20:35:55Z Former pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel, who has been working toward a return to the mound, will be delayed in his effort after undergoing elbow surgery. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, a procedure was performed to fix damage to Ankiel’s ulnar collateral ligament.

    Since Ankiel avoided a full-blown UCL replacement, he won’t require a year-or-more rehabilitation timetable. Still, he’ll be sidelined for quite a while. Per Goold, the estimate is that he’ll be ready to go by the middle of the 2019 season.

    Despite the setback, the 39-year-old will not give up on his effort to make yet another stirring comeback. Ankiel had been working out at the Cardinals’ spring facility and clearly has the full support of the organization. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak says that the club remains interested in discussing a contract when Ankiel is ready to resume his march back toward the majors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cards Confident In Hicks, Could Still Add Late-Inning Arms]]> 2018-11-07T04:42:05Z 2018-11-07T04:42:05Z
  • Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said today that the organization has confidence that flamethrowing right-hander Jordan Hicks could succeed as the team’s closer next season, but that confidence doesn’t necessarily mean he will be in that role (Twitter link via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Goold notes that the Cards could add a left-handed and right-handed reliever this winter. The Cards overhauled their ’pen in significant fashion over the summer when they released Greg Holland, outrighted Tyler Lyons and traded Sam Tuivailala to the Mariners. Since that time, Bud Norris has hit the open market and Matthew Bowman has gone to the Reds via waivers, thus further adding to the potential for turnover.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Chatter: White Sox, Zunino, Kimbrel, Cards, Giants, Phils, Yanks]]> 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z What role will the White Sox play in this free agent market? It’s an open question whether the club will come away with any significant players, but it also seems increasingly likely that it will be heavily involved at all levels of the market. MLBTR did not pick the South Siders to land any of the top fifty free agents, but as noted in that post, the club could pursue quite a few of the players listed.’s Jon Morosi even names the White Sox as potential pursuers of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic points out the case for the Sox to spend (subscription link), while Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that the club is expressing an inclination to “take a step forward now.” Meanwhile, on the other side of town, indications remain that the Cubs will not spend a big chunk of change this winter, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post is the latest to report (Twitter link).

    Clearly, the White Sox are an interesting team to watch. Even if it’s arguably a bit premature for significant investments, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they play in the sport’s worst overall division. Elsewhere …

    • The competition in the AL West seems to be driving the Mariners to sell. It’s unclear as yet how deep the cuts will go, but talks are already opening up. The M’s are chatting with the Rays about catcher Mike Zunino, per Rosenthal (via Twitter). With two years of control remaining, the 27-year-old backstop presents an interesting alternative to the free agent market for catchers. He’s an inconsistent but high-powered offensive performer who is generally seen as a quality defender.
    • The Cardinals and incumbent Red Sox are among the suitors for veteran closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Morosi of Kimbrel is among the players who appear to be candidates to land earlier-than-usual contracts, by Morosi’s reckoning. (He mentions a few possible landing spots for others on his list, though it’s not apparent that the connections are based upon more than his analysis.)
    • Certainly, it seems the motivation is there for the Cardinals to pursue significant players. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, the St. Louis front office is looking hard at ways to improve. GM Mike Girsch says the team has a competitive roster as things stand, but wants to exit the offseason with “a division-leading roster.” The piece is full of worthwhile reading for Cards fans, particularly those interested in gaining some perspective on the team’s market positioning in relation to Harper and Machado. All told, it seems reasonable not to rule the Cards out as a possible pursuer of any free agent.
    • Manny and Bryce are popular considerations for most teams, of course, even if they won’t realistically be pursued by all that many organizations. The Giants are perhaps a likelier suitor than may be evident from a passing glance, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. While the San Francisco organization struggled last year, has quite a few big contracts on the books, and doesn’t currently have a GM in place, Shea says that this kind of ownership-driven decision could still be pursued.
    • Lost in the hype for those popular young free agents is the never-ending search for pitching. While the rotation was and is a strong suit for the Phillies, that doesn’t mean they can’t improve. Indeed, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes, it could make sense for the organization to use some trade assets to add a starter — in addition, of course, to pursuing a superstar position player on the open market. Salisbury tabs southpaws Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks and James Paxton of the Mariners as two particular names to watch.
    • Likewise, as they consider their pitching options, the Yankees will look at the still-developing trade market. Per Heyman, via Twitter, the Yanks have at least some level of interest in the top arms that have newly entered the sphere of trade candidates. New York’s brass will meet with their counterparts with the Indians, who are dangling Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees are also said to have some interest in Paxton. Those three are among the game’s better starters, so it’s hardly surprising to hear the connections.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Harper/Machado Notes: Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Giants]]> 2018-11-04T17:14:52Z 2018-11-04T17:14:52Z Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will drive the action of the 2018-19 free agent market, as the two 26-year-old stars are in line to land the two biggest contracts in baseball history.  Here’s the latest buzz on what teams may or may not be preparing to pursue either of the duo…

    • The Braves have been mentioned as speculative suitors for Harper and Machado, and Atlanta even had some interest in Machado at the trade deadline.  A pursuit of either player this winter, however, might not be in the cards, as per GM Alex Anthopoulos’ comments in an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on Siriux XM (audio link).  “We can be in on any player, we certainly have the dollars to do that.  I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense….to do deals that are ten years in length and longer at significant dollars with the payroll that we have,” Anthopoulos said.  “It’s not a rule for us, but I tend to not see a ton of value from our club that that would make sense for us….That doesn’t mean we won’t at least explore some things and see if we could line up on the right deal and the right term, but I am reluctant to go extremely long in terms of length.”  Freddie Freeman’s eight-year, $135MM deal (signed in February 2014, long before Anthopoulos was with the franchise) is the biggest contract in Braves history, though that extension was signed while Freeman was still 24 and in his first arbitration-eligible year.
    • Could the Mets take a run at Machado?  Recent history would seem to indicate against it, though the New York Post’s Joel Sherman lays out the case why pursuing Machado wouldn’t be so far-fetched an idea, starting with new GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s statement about how the team is planning to contend in 2019.  Signing Machado would obviously be a big help on that front, and Sherman also notes that keeping Machado away from the Yankees would also be of interest to the PR-conscious Wilpon family.  In terms of payroll, the Mets don’t have any salaries whatsoever on the books beyond the 2020 season, plus even Machado’s 2019 salary could be covered via injury insurance payouts from David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes’ contracts.  Sherman also speculates that adding Machado would turn young shortstop Amed Rosario into a very valuable trade chip the Mets could use to address other needs, or the team could try a scenario where Machado plays shortstop in 2019 and Rosario moves to second base, with Machado potentially moving back to third base in 2020 once Todd Frazier’s contract is up.
    • The Cardinals will check in on Harper as part of what could be a busy offseason for the team, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  As one industry source puts it, the Cards are “sending signals they are out to be a player” as a response to their three-year postseason drought, and also because they’ve missed out on other some major winter targets (i.e. Giancarlo Stanton, David Price) in recent years.  While the Cardinals still have some hesitations about extended long-term commitments to players, they could agree to such a contract in unique cases — as Goold notes, the team’s willingness to take on Stanton’s contract could hint that they are open to the record-setting deal it would take to land Harper.  Installing Harper as the everyday right fielder would make Dexter Fowler expendable, though St. Louis could also give Harper some time in center field while platooning Fowler and Harrison Bader between the two outfield spots.
    • The Giants also made a run at Stanton last winter, and San Francisco makes a lot of sense as a landing spot for Harper, as’s Buster Olney writes in a subscription-only piece.  Beyond the major upgrade Harper would bring to the Giants’ shaky outfield, Harper could find the Bay Area as much of a fit as another often-controversial star (Barry Bonds) did years ago, though obviously Bonds had the hometown factor in his favor. Olney notes that Giants owner Charles Johnson “was all-in on the idea of adding Stanton,” and the club’s traditional willingness to spend big on free agents could be more indicative of future plans than what the Giants’ yet-to-be-named new general manager has in mind.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Claim Matthew Bowman From Cardinals; Dilson Herrera, Mason Williams Outrighted]]> 2018-11-02T19:21:14Z 2018-11-02T19:09:21Z The Reds announced Friday that they’ve claimed right-handed reliever Matthew Bowman off waivers from the division-rival Cardinals. Additionally, infielder Dilson Herrera and outfielder Mason Williams have cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Louisville.

    Bowman, 27, was a quality middle-relief option for the Cards from 2016-17, working to a 3.70 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 126 1/3 innings. He stumbled in 2018 however, requiring multiple DL stints for ongoing blister issues and generally performing poorly when on the field. In 23 innings this past season, he posted a 6.26 ERA with a career-best 10.2 K/9 mark but also a career-worst 4.1 BB/9 mark. Bowman does have a minor league option remaining, so he could be a flexible ’pen option for the Reds in 2019.

    The 24-year-old Herrera went unclaimed after hitting .184/.268/.414 in 97 plate appearances for the Reds late in the 2018 season. It’s been a couple of years since he was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jay Bruce from Cincinnati to the Mets, but Herrera’s late cup of coffee was actual his team debut. The former top prospect’s career has been utterly derailed by shoulder troubles, and while he finally surfaced in the Majors with the Reds, he didn’t do enough to secure a roster spot for the 2019 season. Because he’s previously been outrighted by the Reds, he can now elect fre agency, leaving the Cincinnati organization with nothing to show for that Bruce swap; lefty Max Wotell, the only other player in the trade, was cut loose earlier this season.

    The 27-year-old Williams is a former top prospect in his own right, though it’s been quite some time since he was perceived in that light. He inked a minor league pact with Cincinnati and made his way to the big league roster, hitting .293/.331/.398 in 132 PAs. Solid as that showing was, he couldn’t stick on the 40-man nor did another team claim him, so he, too, can head to the open market as a minor league free agent by virtue of that fact that he’s also been outrighted previously (by the Yankees in 2017).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Outright Francisco Pena]]> 2018-11-02T13:27:49Z 2018-11-02T13:27:49Z In addition to trying to pass Greg Garcia through waivers yesterday — Garcia was claimed by the Padres — the Cardinals also put catcher Francisco Pena through outright waivers, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Pena, unlike Garcia, cleared waivers (as also noted on the team’s transactions log) and will become a minor league free agent.

    The 29-year-old Pena registered career-highs in games played (58) and plate appearances (142) this past season while filling in for the injured Yadier Molina. Long regarded as a glove-first option behind the plate, Pena managed just a .203/.239/.271 batting line in his time with the Cards. He’s a career .252/.296/.452 hitter in 1376 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, though, and he’s controlled the running game well in the minors even if he struggled to do so in his limited run with St. Louis. He’ll surely latch on somewhere this offseason on a minor league deal, as there’s never enough catching depth to go around in the Majors and he’s a viable third or fourth option to bring up to the big leagues in the event of injuries.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Padres Claim Greg Garcia]]> 2018-11-01T18:59:24Z 2018-11-01T18:39:31Z The Padres announced today that they have claimed infielder Greg Garcia off waivers from the Cardinals. He’ll head out west after spending his entire professional career in the St. Louis organization.

    Garcia, a native of the San Diego area, has received significant MLB playing time in the past three campaigns. All told, he’s a .248/.356/.339 hitter in the big leagues. With just ten career home runs, there isn’t much pop, though Garcia has managed a 12.3% walk rate in the bigs.

    Unfortunately, the 29-year-old oversaw a downturn at the plate last year, with his walk rate sinking into the single digits and his overall output falling along with it. Garcia managed only a 72 wRC+ on the year.

    With experience playing all over the infield, Garcia could represent a utility option for the Pads. At the moment, the San Diego organization is largely unsettled on the left side of the dirt.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Marcell Ozuna Undergoes Shoulder Procedure]]> 2018-10-31T13:15:45Z 2018-10-31T13:15:45Z Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna underwent a “clean up” procedure on his right shoulder, per Craig Mish of Sirius XM (Twitter link). The work was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

    It had not previously been anticipated that Ozuna would require any kind of procedure, though it also does not seem to be a particularly concerning outcome at this point. The rehab schedule is not expected to limit Ozuna’s ability to report for full participation in Spring Training.

    Ozuna’s ailing shoulder was a significant problem for him over the course of the 2018 season. The issue seemed to place a drag on his productivity all year long, until a late-season cortisone shot that helped spur a strong run to finish out the campaign.

    In the aggregate, the Cardinals did not get the kind of output they hoped for when they acquired Ozuna, who compiled a career-best .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 home runs for the Marlins in 2017. He completed his first of two seasons of club control for the St. Louis organization with a merely above-average .280/.325/.433 line and 23 long balls. Ozuna projects to earn $13.4MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.

    There are several questions going forward. For one, there’s still some reason to wonder whether Ozuna’s big ’17 campaign was truly representative. After all, he rode a career-high .355 batting average on balls in play. The Cards obviously felt the outburst was sustainable and now believe he can get back to that level in what will only be his age-28 season. But the team will first need to see whether Ozuna’s shoulder can recover.

    That’ll depend in part upon Ozuna’s own efforts at rehab, of course, and that’s a subject that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak raised recently. As’s Jenifer Langosch reminds, Mozeliak offered some notably public advice for Ozuna. “If he’s diligent and puts himself in a position to prepare and have himself in a place where his shoulder is not preventing him from playing at his full potential, then I think the sky’s the limit for him,” said the club’s top baseball ops executive.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Re-Sign Adam Wainwright]]> 2018-10-29T21:27:38Z 2018-10-29T21:22:20Z OCTOBER 29: Wainwright receives a $2MM guarantee, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link) has details on the extensive list of incentives. Wainwright can earn the following salary boosts:

    • For games started, he’ll earn $500K upon his fifth start, $1MM upon his tenth and 15th, $1.5MM for his twentieth, and $2MM apiece for his 25th and 30th. Maxing out this run of bonuses would add $8MM of salary.
    • For relief appearances, Wainwright can earn $500K apiece for every fifth appearance, beginning at #35 and ending at #60. That provides an avenue to $3MM in extra money.
    • For games finished, Wainwright will receive $500K for the 25th and 30th game in which he records the final out and $600K for every fifth game finished beginning at #35 and ending at #55. If Wainwright serves as the Cards’ closer and meets all of those thresholds, he’d tack on another $4MM, meaning he could in total earn up to an additional $7MM in a relief capacity.

    OCTOBER 11, 2:18pm: Wainwright’s contract includes incentives based on both starting and relieving, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter). The contract’s base salary remains unknown.

    12:24pm: The Cardinals announced Thursday that they’ve re-signed right-hander Adam Wainwright to a one-year contract for the 2019 season. Wainwright, who recently turned 37, had been slated to hit free agency. He’s a client of Aegis Sports Management.

    Adam Wainwright | Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2019 season will mark the 15th Major League season of Wainwright’s illustrious career — each of which has come as a member of the Cardinals. A two-time NL Cy Young runner up and four-time top-three finisher in that voting, Wainwright has now tied righty Bob Forsch for the third-most seasons as a Cardinals pitcher in team history.

    This past season was an injury-plagued campaign for Wainwright, who pitched just 15 1/3 innings in April before hitting the disabled list due to elbow inflammation. He returned after a few weeks only to land on the disabled list after just 2 1/3 innings. That second DL stint, which was also initially due to elbow inflammation lasted nearly four months.

    Once healthy enough to return to the mound, Wainwright reeled off 17 shutout innings on a minor league rehab assignment and returned to the Cards to make four starts in September. He was tagged for four runs in three of those four starts and turned in an unsightly 4.84 ERA in 22 1/3 innings, but he also notched an impressive 25-to-4 K/BB ratio in that time and saw his fastball jump back up to the same levels at which it sat in 2016-17.

    The question for St. Louis now is one of just how Wainwright will factor into the 2019 staff. The Cards weren’t lacking rotation options even without Wainwright, with Carlos Martinez, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes (if healthy), Luke Weaver, Dakota Hudson, John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber all on the roster. It’s not clear that he’ll be promised a rotation spot at this point, but perhaps a return to the bullpen shouldn’t be entirely discounted. The Cardinals’ relief corps was somewhat jumbled late in the season after a massive overhaul prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in which Greg Holland, Sam Tuivailala and Tyler Lyons were all sent packing.

    Bud Norris, who spent much of the season closing in St. Louis before ceding that role to Martinez in the latter’s return from the disabled list, is a free agent and isn’t any sort of lock to return. August addition Tyson Ross is bound for the open market, too. Meanwhile, 2017-18 offseason pickups Luke Gregerson (two-year, $11MM free-agent deal) and Dominic Leone (acquired from the Blue Jays for Randal Grichuk) combined for just 36 2/3 innings due to injury.

    The 2018 season wasn’t all bad for the Cards in terms of bullpen developments, though. Flamethrowing young righty Jordan Hicks arrived on the scene and established himself as a potential long-term piece, while righty John Brebbia somewhat quietly turned in an excellent sophomore season. Wainwright could certainly be penciled in to join that pair, along with some of the rotation candidates who don’t ultimately secure starting jobs, though perhaps the team will simply wait until Spring Training to see how the staff comes together. The Cards, after all, figure to have a busy offseason ahead of them as they look to rework a flawed roster, and it’s possible that some of those younger pitching options could land elsewhere via the trade market.

    Regardless of his role, Wainwright will return to serve as a leader on a staff of considerably younger arms, and his new contract will give him one more year with Yadier Molina — one of the most iconic pairings in franchise history.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[NL Notes: Kershaw, Roberts, Cardinals]]> 2018-11-02T15:06:53Z 2018-10-29T16:31:43Z After a second straight year of coming tantalizingly close to winning his first ring, Clayton Kershaw has a decision looming.’s Mark Feinsand tweets some of his conversation with Kershaw (Twitter links), who has until end of day Wednesday to decide whether to opt out of his current contract. Said Kershaw, “I know the future questions are obviously coming for myself…. I’ve got three days now to think about all of that stuff before anything happens. And so it will be an eventful three days for me, and I’ll try to figure it out.” MLBTR readers voted on Kershaw’s future here, but it’s up to him now, and he has until midnight ET Thursday morning to decide. Now, some coaching notes around the NL…

    • Dave Roberts’ future resides in contract limbo as well, as his contract situation with the Dodgers remains unresolved, per the Athletic’s Pedro Moura. Roberts made some questionable tactical choices this postseason, mostly regarding bullpen use, but winning back-to-back pennants is no small feat, and it would be surprising to see the Dodgers move in a different direction so soon. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Dodgers could simply pick up their $1.1MM option for 2019, but going into a lame duck season might not be the path either side is most interested in pursuing. 
    • The Cardinals have named Jeff Albert as their new hitting coach, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Albert started his coaching career in the Cardinals organization, but moved to the Houston Astros in 2013, spending four seasons from 2013-2017 as their minor-league hitting coordinator. Last season, Albert joined A.J. Hinch’s staff in Houston as an assistant hitting coach. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds that Triple-A manager Stubby Clapp will become the team’s new first base coach. Clapp received some consideration for managerial openings this October, but he’ll instead move to the big-league club in St. Louis.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[NL Notes: Cubs, McGwire, Nationals]]> 2018-10-23T21:09:57Z 2018-10-23T20:51:44Z By renovating the historic Fenway Park in 2002, Boston augmented their baseball ops department with the quickening revenue streams from an improved stadium experience – a strategy Theo Epstein brought with him to Chicago, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Additionally, both Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, under Epstein’s leadership, have benefited from in-stadium advertising along the outfield walls – much like your local little league field. In Boston, the seats added above the Green Monster came complete with the ad billboards above. In Chicago, the bleachers were devoid of ad content until 2010 when a 360-foot Toyota sign was installed over the left field bleachers. Baseball purists may balk at these eyesores becoming a focal point of such historic stadiums, but the financial welfare afforded both franchises by these towering facades have produced previously-unmatched eras of on-field success. Lest we forget, Wrigley Field was called Weeghman Park until it was acquired by the chewing gum tycoon, so while it’s not as obvious a money grab as southside rival Guaranteed Rate Field, the Cubs’ northside stadium has long been financially-inspired – Epstein’s major contribution is making these influxes of cash obvious on the field.

    Now, some coaching updates around the National League…

    • Mark McGwire won’t be returning as the Padres bench coach for 2019, per’s AJ Cassavell. McGwire is reportedly stepping down to spend more time with his family after two seasons as the bench coach in San Diego. Big Mac had previously spent three seasons apiece as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. For the Padres, they will seek to avoid an extended search to fill their three coaching vacancies for 2019 (bench coach, hitting coach, and infield coach).
    • In other coaching news, the Washington Nationals will not be making any changes to their coaching staff prior to 2019, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Manager Dave Martinez returns for the second year of a three-year deal, hoping for a turnaround after a disappointing first year in Washington. Bench coach Chip Hale, hitting coach Kevin Long, and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist will return to buttress Martinez in the Washington dugout. Rounding out the coaching crew: former infielder Tim Bogar returns to the first base coaching box, Greg Maddux’s former personal catcher Henry Blanco returns to coach in the bullpen and longtime third base coach Bob Henley returns in his usual role.