MLB Trade Rumors » » St. Louis Cardinals 2017-10-21T13:51:05Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Notes: Baker, Kelley, Lynn, Bell]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105145 2017-10-21T04:30:19Z 2017-10-21T04:30:19Z The Nationals sparked some backlash today with the surprising decision not to retain manager Dusty Baker. Bob Nightengale of USA Today was particularly incensed, slamming the organization not only for the substance of the move, but also for leaving Baker dangling in the wind for the past week-and-a-half. Baker tells Nightengale that he’s “surprised and disappointed” after leading the team to two-straight NL East titles but also failing to advance past the NLDS. It’s worth keeping some perspective here: after all, Baker is a highly-compensated professional and this is a results-oriented business. But the move does seem somewhat confusing from the outside and certainly fits the ever-growing record of questionable interactions between ownership and managers in D.C. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post also examined the risk the club is taking with the switch.

More from the National League:

  • Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley has received a stem-cell injection in his troublesome right elbow, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. The hope is that the treatment, combined with a full offseason of rest, will allow Kelley to return at full health next year. He is not expected to require any surgery at this time. Kelley, who is slated to earn another $5.5MM in the final season of his contract, somehow allowed a dozen home runs in just 26 innings in 2017 while also maintaining a 13.5% swinging-strike rate. Given his history of quality relief work, perhaps there’s still hope that he can contribute once again in 2018.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tackled a host of interesting Cardinals questions in his latest chat, some highlights of which are available here. Of particular note, he says it’s no secret that righty Lance Lynn is going to seek a big contract — something on the order of Jordan Zimmermann’s $110MM guarantee — in free agency. While St. Louis has interest in retaining Lynn, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of it entering that stratosphere to do so. (Whether any other teams will do so seems questionable, too.)
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinals have lost bench coach David Bell to the Giants, where he’ll serve as the VP of player development. That could kick off some other changes for these two organizations, both of which are looking to bounce back from postseason misses in 2017 (and a much more serious collapse in the case of San Francisco). Bell had worked in the St. Louis dugout since 2014. The twelve-year MLB veteran spent time with both organizations during his playing career.
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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[An Early Look At The Cardinals’ Search For A Closer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104919 2017-10-17T21:18:38Z 2017-10-17T14:18:52Z As the Cardinals made a late push at a postseason spot this year, it seemed the club had finally sorted things out in the ninth inning — and done so for 2018 as well. Trevor Rosenthal, once the team’s lock-down closer, had rediscovered and even improved upon his former form.

The sense of certainty did not lost long. The grim UCL reaper came for the powerful righty in late August, knocking him out for most or all of the 2018 campaign. Whatever hope Rosenthal may have of returning late in the season to come, it likely won’t be sufficient for the team to tender him a contract at the projected rate of $7.9MM.

Seung-hwan Oh had taken over closing duties for Rosenthal when he faltered in 2016, but Oh himself stumbled last year and is in any event now a free agent. Brett Cecil rebounded from an ugly start to his time in St. Louis, especially in the peripherals, but was never really given a look in that role. Tyler Lyons turned in an exciting season but made way for Juan Nicasio, who was acquired despite the fact that he was not eligible for the postseason. And young flamethrower Sandy Alcantara continues to show eye-popping talent, but likely won’t be entrusted with such a key role early in 2018 after exhibiting some walk issues during his first MLB stint last year.

All said, it’s rather clear that the Cardinals will be looking for an outside acquisition to secure late-inning victories. The team’s leadership largely acknowledges as much, as Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Looking around the rest of baseball, it’s hard to identify any other team with such an evident need in the 9th. Among hopeful contenders, there are a few other clubs with potential openings — the Cubs, Twins, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Angels, especially — though some of those organizations may well look to internal options. Other organizations will consider adding high-leverage relievers, even if they already have ninth-inning options penciled in, so there is other competition. But the need for an established closer is more acute in St. Louis than anywhere else.

As the Cards begin mapping out an offseason strategy, here are some of the names they might be weighing:

Free Agents

Despite expressing a general aversion to “pay[ing] retail for closers,” GM Mike Girsch acknowledges a need to “evaluate the brand-name closers in the market.”

  • Wade Davis has emerged as the top target, as he carried a 2.30 ERA through the regular season and has come up big thus far in the postseason. Davis is still pumping mid-nineties heat, even if it isn’t quite at his peak, and set a career high with a 15.4% swinging-strike rate.
  • Greg Holland did not quite hold his edge for the entirety of a bounceback season, though surely his extensive absence also played a role. Holland also drew swings and misses on more than 15% of the pitches he threw despite a more significant velocity drop than Davis has experienced to this point. Though he got he job done for most of the year at altitude, Holland did end with a less-than-dominant 3.61 ERA.
  • Addison Reed stepped into the closer’s role for the Mets before his mid-season trade to the Red Sox and has plenty of high-leverage experience in his career. He has yet to reach 29 years of age and, unlike the prior two names on this list, brings elite control to the table and also set a personal best with a 13.7% swinging-strike rate. There’s certainly a case to be made that Reed represents a more palatable long-term investment and can be trusted to handle the ninth.
  • Juan Nicasio, as noted, ended up taking a surprising route to Cards late in the season. He ended up saving four games in 11 strong innings. Over the course of the year, Nicasio led the National League with 76 appearances and carried a 2.61 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. While the converted starter has relatively minimal experience in the late innings, he might represent a more budget-friendly possibility.

There are other free agents with ample late-inning experience, including Steve Cishek, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Koji Uehara, and Sergio Romo. Those and others could obviously be considered by the Cards, but likely wouldn’t be added with closing duties in mind.

One-Year Rentals

The Cards will surely also look into trade possibilities. With Alcantara and other good arms on the rise, though, perhaps the focus will be on shoring things up for 2018 rather than securing a longer-term piece (at a much higher price, no doubt).

  • Kelvin Herrera could represent an interesting target. The Royals dealt Davis away last year for a talented player (Jorge Soler) who had fallen out of favor with his contending team. St. Louis has quite a few intriguing assets (Aledmys Diaz, first and foremost) that could fit a similar description. Herrera is just 27 years old but will be entering his final season of arb control at a projected $8.3MM. He’s also coming off of a tepid 2017 season in which he managed only a 4.25 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 while permitting a sudden jump in home runs (1.37 per nine on a 14.5% HR/FB rate). Herrera is still throwing pure heat but did slip to an 11.5% swinging-strike rate. And some late-season forearm issues are a bit concerning from the perspective of an acquiring organization.
  • Zach Britton might also be a one-year bounceback target, though he could be in line for a $12.2MM payday and had some fairly worrying health and performance issues in 2017. Plus, the O’s presently insist they aren’t interested in dealing him. There’s still time for that stance to change, however, and the Cards would be one of many teams that could dream on a revived Britton. Teammate Brad Brach is also a quality late-inning arm and is set to earn just $5.2MM, though as with Britton it remains unclear whether he’ll truly be available at any kind of reasonable price.

Multi-Year Assets

While price tags figure to remain high for sought-after young relievers, there are quite a few interesting names to consider.

  • Brad Hand is earning a reasonable $3.8MM in his second-to-last season of arb control. Though the  Padres’ 27-year-old only just stepped into the closer’s role in the middle of 2017, that change didn’t seem to bother the breakout reliever, who worked to a 2.16 ERA with 11.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 over a healthy 79 1/3 frames. Hand can work deep and deliver top-line results, though his status as one of the game’s best southpaws will no doubt also lead to broad interest.
  • Raisel Iglesias continues to dominate and is still 27 years old. The Reds hurler will earn $4.5MM this year, as his contract calls for, and will likely opt into arbitration beginning in 2018 — when his salary figures to ramp up quite a bit. Still, with control through 2021, Iglesias has huge value. Plus, he may yet be on the come, as he boosted both his average fastball velo and swinging-strike rate in 2017.
  • Alex Colome will take home a projected $5.5MM from the Rays with two more years of control remaining. It’s still not clear what kind of course Tampa Bay will take this winter; though it seems more likely than not that the team will keep trying to contend, it’s still possible that Colome will be shopped around a bit. The 28-year-old failed to sustain his 2016 breakout, though, tallying a 3.24 ERA with a pedestrian 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings.
  • Arodys Vizcaino has had plenty of ups and downs for the Braves, who may prefer simply to hold onto him rather than trying to secure what may not be an exciting return. But Vizcaino did manage a 2.83 ERA last year while closing 14 games, so could hold appeal. He is slated to earn something in the realm of $3.7MM and can also be tendered arbitration for 2019, so there’s also somewhat less contractual upside than with some of the other pitchers discussed here — perhaps lowering the ask on Viz. In his favor? A blistering 98 mph heater and career-best 14.7% swinging-strike rate. Beyond questions about his ability to reliably handle closing duties for a full season, we’ll also need to wait to see what course the Braves take once their current front-office mess is resolved.
  • Dellin Betances could be an intriguing buy-low target if the Yankees decide to move on. While he has often been absurdly dominant, Betances showed a concerning loss of the strike zone down the stretch and into the postseason. But his overwhelming stuff and upside are undeniable. With a projected $4.4MM arb salary and another year of control, he’d draw big interest despite the struggles. Of course, there’s also good reason for New York to hold and hope for a rebound, and the risk may be too great for a team like the Cards to trust the ninth to Betances coming out of camp.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has also reported that the Cards have some interest in right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano — the longtime closer for Japan’s Orix Buffaloes. It seems unlikely that a big league club would sign the free agent and immediately hand him the keys to the ninth inning, though if he impresses early in his MLB tenure he could emerge as a closing option, as Oh did in his 2016 debut campaign.

There are a few other young names that could conceivably enter the mix here — most notably Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays, Edwin Diaz of the Mariners, and perhaps the Phillies’ Hector Neris. But all indications are that there’s no significant likelihood of these players being moved; Toronto and Seattle insist they will try again to contend, while the Phils probably won’t have much motivation to part with a pre-arb relief talent as their competitive window begins to re-open.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Randal Grichuk Discusses Future]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104776 2017-10-15T03:27:38Z 2017-10-15T03:27:38Z Along with the Diamondbacks (his current team), the Giants, Angels, Cardinals and Red Sox all stand out as potential offseason fits for impending free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, Jon Morosi of MLB.com writes.  While the Cardinals and Red Sox already have logjams in the outfield, a trade could open up room for Martinez, notes Morosi, who adds that whether the Angels pursue the offensive superstar is going to depend on Justin Upton’s opt-out decision. The Giants, meanwhile, are in dire need of a slugger and a corner outfielder, making them arguably the most logical match for Martinez, Morosi opines.

  • Outfielder Randal Grichuk has come up as someone the Cardinals could trade, and the 26-year-old realizes he may have played his last game in their uniform. On whether he expects to be a Redbird in 2018, Grichuk told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com: “No. Not necessarily. But who knows. Anything is possible. It’s going to be a fun offseason. It’s going to be an interesting offseason to see what direction the club goes with a lot of guys. I’m excited to see what the future holds.” Grichuk has registered decent production across 1,386 career plate appearances in St. Louis (.249/.297/.488, .239 ISO) and put up back-to-back 20-home run seasons, but a lack of plate discipline has somewhat offset his impressive power and made him a trade candidate. Grichuk is projected to earn $2.8MM in 2018, his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Expected To Pursue Greg Holland In Free Agency]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104682 2017-10-13T13:59:44Z 2017-10-13T13:59:44Z
  • The Cardinals are expected to pursue right-hander Greg Holland in free agency once he formally declines his player option, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. It’s hardly a surprise to see the two sides linked, as the bullpen is known to be a focal point for the Cardinals and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak this offseason. Nightengale notes that the Cards “plan to pounce” on Holland once he’s actually a free agent, though certainly the intensity of their pursuit will be tied to the asking price of Holland and agent Scott Boras. Holland had a dreary second half, perhaps in part due to fatigue in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but he did rack up 41 saves and average 11 strikeouts per nine innings with a 3.61 ERA. Then again, he also averaged 4.1 walks per nine and posted a 1.1 HR/9 mark that doubles his career level of 0.55.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Gyorko, DeJong]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104463 2017-10-09T13:50:39Z 2017-10-09T13:50:39Z
  • Elsewhere in the Cardinals’ infield, the presence of power-hitting shortstop Paul DeJong gives them a leg up on most teams, Benjamin Hochman of the Post-Dispatch argues. Of the top eight shortstops in home runs this year, five ended up in the postseason, Hochman points out. The 24-year-old DeJong was one of the three who didn’t, but the rookie still posted outstanding production with 25 long balls – good for second at his position – to go with a .285/.325/.532 line and a .247 ISO over 443 PAs. But DeJong’s output did come with some good fortune – with 124 strikeouts against 21 unintentional walks, he logged one of the worst ratios in the game. Further, according to Statcast (via Baseball Savant), DeJong’s expected weighted on-base average (.323) lagged far behind his actual wOBA (.365). Sill, Hochman expects DeJong to be the answer for the Cards at short, a position Aledmys Diaz couldn’t lock down this season after unexpectedly bursting on the scene as a rookie in 2016.
    • The Cardinals are in search of power, something third baseman Jedd Gyorko provided both last year and this season, but it’s possible he’ll be on another roster in 2018, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. While Gyorko has hit a team-high 50 home runs since 2016 (20 this year) and, in manager Mike Matheny’s words, “played a phenomenal third base,” the Cardinals could shop him if they make changes at his position or elsewhere in in the infield. Gyorko, who’s controllable through 2020 at reasonable costs, wants to stay where he is. “I would love to be here, but who knows?” he said. “If I could spend the rest of my career here that would be great. I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to play here.”
    • Elsewhere in the Cardinals’ infield, the presence of power-hitting shortstop Paul DeJong gives them a leg up on most teams, Benjamin Hochman of the Post-Dispatch argues. Of the top eight shortstops in home runs this year, five ended up in the postseason, Hochman points out. The 24-year-old DeJong was one of the three who didn’t, but the rookie still posted outstanding production with 25 long balls – good for second at his position – to go with a .285/.325/.532 line and a .247 ISO over 443 PAs. But DeJong’s output did come with some good fortune – with 124 strikeouts against 21 unintentional walks, he logged one of the worst ratios in the game. Further, according to Statcast (via Baseball Savant), DeJong’s expected weighted on-base average (.323) lagged far behind his actual wOBA (.365). Sill, Hochman expects DeJong to be the answer for the Cards at short, a position Aledmys Diaz couldn’t lock down this season after unexpectedly bursting on the scene as a rookie in 2016.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Missouri Notes: Royals, Cardinals, Hosmer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104397 2017-10-08T15:19:07Z 2017-10-08T15:19:07Z Here’s the latest baseball news from the Show Me State…

    • Of all the Royals’ big free agents this winter, Eric Hosmer seems to be the team’s top priority, and Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star looks at what would need to happen for the team to re-sign the star first baseman.  In short, Hosmer’s market would need to be much softer than expected, which would allow the Royals to stay in the bidding — the scenario would be akin to how K.C. was able to bring back another homegrown star in Alex Gordon two years ago.  Realistically, the Royals need both Hosmer to find a thin market and for him to be willing to accept a slight discount on his asking price, and “even internally, club officials acknowledge this is unlikely,” Mellinger writes.
    • Should Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all leave in free agency, the club “would effectively be admitting a rebuild” by having to rely on internal options or lower-tier free agents to fill the holes, Mellinger notes.  On the other hand, GM Dayton Moore “would never commit to a virtual tank” in the fashion of the Astros, Cubs, or White Sox.  Instead, Mellinger suggests that the Royals could try to stay competitive enough in 2018 to take advantage of a weakened AL Central, such as how the Twins gained a surprise wild card berth this season.
    • If the Royals are hoping for a cooler market for Hosmer, they could be helped by the fact that so many big-market teams are already set at first base, ESPN’s Buster Olney observes in his latest subscription-only column.  The Red Sox and Yankees could use upgrades at first but are both looking to get under the luxury tax threshold, while the Angels would probably only be in the Hosmer mix if Justin Upton opted out of his deal.  One intriguing scenario Olney floats (based on just his own speculation) is the Cardinals trading Matt Carpenter and signing Hosmer as the everyday first baseman.  This move would, on paper, address the Cards’ wish to be more athletic and better defensively, though it should be noted that the Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 metrics have actually presented Hosmer as a below-average defender over the last two seasons.
    • “Whether it’s the bullpen or the lineup, the Cardinals stated goals for 2018 are fortify and simplify,” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in an overview of the team’s offseason plans.  The roster was often in flux last season thanks to injuries, some unexpected dropoffs in performance and some new faces earning increased playing time, so the Cardinals are planning on more lineup stability next year.  There hasn’t been any consideration given to a rebuild, as the Cards feel they have both the money and farm system depth to stay competitive while remaking the roster at the same time.
    • Clubhouse issues and a lack of fundamentals plagued the Cards all season, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues that the team needs to re-commit to its Cardinal Way mantra.  Some players were annoyed by a “lackadaisical atmosphere” inside the clubhouse throughout the season, though a players-only dinner arranged by Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in early August served as a good wakeup call for the team.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Targeted Ozuna, Gordon, Ziegler?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104260 2017-10-06T14:33:13Z 2017-10-06T14:33:13Z
  • According to one Marlins player, the Cardinals reportedly expressed interest in Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Brad Ziegler this summer, with Ziegler’s name surfacing after Trevor Rosenthal was lost to Tommy John surgery in late August.  The Cards’ interest in Ozuna (and other Miami outfielders) is known, though this is the first time Gordon and Ziegler have been linked to St. Louis.  It makes sense that the Cards would’ve checked in on Ziegler given their sudden need for relief help after Rosenthal went down, though it remains to be seen if Ziegler would be a trade target this winter as the team looks to bolster its pen.  Ziegler has a hefty $9MM salary in 2018, though the Marlins could eat some of that money to make a deal happen.  Gordon would be an even pricier addition at $38MM owed through the 2020 season, plus a $14MM vesting option for 2021.

    [SOURCE LINK]
    • According to one Marlins player, the Cardinals reportedly expressed interest in Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Brad Ziegler this summer, with Ziegler’s name surfacing after Trevor Rosenthal was lost to Tommy John surgery in late August.  The Cards’ interest in Ozuna (and other Miami outfielders) is known, though this is the first time Gordon and Ziegler have been linked to St. Louis.  It makes sense that the Cards would’ve checked in on Ziegler given their sudden need for relief help after Rosenthal went down, though it remains to be seen if Ziegler would be a trade target this winter as the team looks to bolster its pen.  Ziegler has a hefty $9MM salary in 2018, though the Marlins could eat some of that money to make a deal happen.  Gordon would be an even pricier addition at $38MM owed through the 2020 season, plus a $14MM vesting option for 2021.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Seek More "Modern Approach" From Pitching Coaches]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104075 2017-10-05T16:28:38Z 2017-10-05T13:46:17Z
  • As the Cardinals look to improve upon a disappointing 2017 campaign, the team will change up the coaches working with the pitching staff, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and bullpen coach Blaise Ilsley are both on the way out, with the Cards said to be seeking “a more modern approach to starter usage and bullpen deployment.” The St. Louis org says it hopes to make new hires in short order.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Interested In Japanese Closer Yoshihisa Hirano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104079 2017-10-04T16:16:13Z 2017-10-04T16:16:13Z Intent on fortifying their bullpen for the 2018 season, the Cardinals have interest in Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

    Set to turn 34 years of age next March, Hirano has long been a dominant closer in Japan, amassing 143 saves with a 2.62 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 through 271 1/3 innings from 2013-17. Hirano started his career in the Buffaloes’ rotation, and like many starters who struggle early in their career eventually found new life as a member of the Orix bullpen. Since shifting to a relief role full time in 2010, he owns a 2.32 ERA and a 564-to-123 K/BB ratio in 515 1/3 innings, although this season’s 7.5 K/9 mark was his lowest since becoming a full-time reliever.

    Hirano easily exceeds the age and experience limitations to qualify as a professional under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, meaning he won’t be subject to international bonus pools. He’s also spent 11 seasons pitching professionally in Japan (all with the Buffaloes), giving him the requisite service time in Nippon Professional Baseball to qualify as a free agent that is exempt from the posting system. In other words, Hirano is free to sign with any professional club on the planet for any amount this offseason.

    The Cardinals are no stranger to dipping into the international market to bolster their relief corps, having done so two offseasons ago when signing right-hander Seung-hwan Oh. Certainly, their level of interest figures to be preliminary at this stage. The NPB season is still in progress over in Japan, and the Cardinals have no way of knowing exactly what type of contract Hirano will be seeking, nor do they know how he’ll fit in alongside the asking prices of the upcoming winter’s crop of free-agent relievers. Given his success in the Orix bullpen over the past several seasons, however, Hirano will be a name worth remembering as the offseason wears on and teams explore all possible avenues to deepen their pitching staffs.

    Other teams figure to at least kick the tires on Hirano this offseason, as they’ve had no shortage of opportunities to scout the righty over his lengthy NPB career. C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn’t explicitly state that the Reds have interest in Hirano, though he does note (Twitter link) that GM Dick Williams’ most recent trip to Japan was likely for the purposes of scouting more than just Shohei Otani, specifically listing Hirano as an example of another player that Williams could have been evaluating.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Offseason, Closers, Hitting, Fowler, Lynn]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104019 2017-10-03T23:26:27Z 2017-10-03T23:26:27Z Some items from the Cardinals’ season-end press conference, as per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (link one, link two)…

    • The Cards will be looking for a middle-of-the-lineup slugger this winter to boost the lineup.  “For us, we have a talented team, but when you look at our club, no one stood out as an All-Star, that threat,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said.  Seven Cards regulars were above-average run-creators in 2017 as per the wRC+ metric, though injuries and a lack of regular playing time impacted that group.  Josh Donaldson has been rumored to be one of the Cardinals’ offseason targets, and would certainly fit the bill as a big lineup upgrade if St. Louis is able to pry him away from the Blue Jays.
    • With Trevor Rosenthal sidelined by Tommy John surgery, the Cards will look into adding ninth-inning help, even if they’re wary of shopping at the high end of the free agent closer market. “Ideally, you don’t pay retail for closers if you can avoid it, and we’ve been lucky for the last long period of not having to dip into that end of the market.  But we don’t have an heir apparent at the moment, so we will have to evaluate what our options are,” GM Michael Girsch said.
    • Flexibility seems to be the key word for this Cardinals’ offseason, as with so many multi-positional players on the roster, the club has several options in deciding who could potentially stay or go.  (And who could be added, in regards to acquiring that big bat.)  Mozeliak said that catcher Yadier Molina is the only position player who has his spot on the field firmly established for 2018.  This means that Dexter Fowler could potentially move out of center field, which Mozeliak said will likely be discussed in the coming weeks.  2016 was the only season of Fowler’s career that saw him post positive numbers in the Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 categories, as he struggled to minus-18 DRS and -9.9 UZR/150 last year over 933 1/3 IP in center field.
    • The Cardinals have yet to decide whether or not to issue a qualifying offer to free agent starter Lance Lynn.  If Lynn rejected the QO, the Cards would be in line for compensation (an extra draft pick just prior to the third round) if he signed elsewhere.  If he accepted, then he’d return to St. Louis on a one-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $18.1MM.  After missing all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, Lynn returned to post very solid numbers this season and pitched 186 1/3 innings, which could quiet concerns about his post-surgery durability.  Even with such a major recent injury on his record, Lynn is likely to find a good multi-year deal on the open market, so one would think he’d reject a QO.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cardinals Fire Derek Lilliquist, Blaise Ilsley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103962 2017-10-03T21:46:38Z 2017-10-03T21:46:25Z
  • Derek Lilliquist has been informed that he will not be the Cardinals’ pitching coach next year, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The search for his replacement is ongoing, but Goold adds in a separate tweet that Cardinals’ Triple-A pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd is a potential candidate. In yet a third tweet, Goold mentions that bullpe coach Blaise Ilsley also did not have his contract renewed, but that president of baseball ops John Mozeliak expects that all other coaches will return.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dexter Fowler Expects To Stay With Cardinals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103918 2017-10-03T02:56:47Z 2017-10-03T02:56:47Z
  • The Cardinals may deal from their surplus of outfielders this offseason, but the highest-paid member of the bunch, Dexter Fowler, seems unlikely to go anywhere. When the Cardinals signed Fowler to a five-year, $82.5MM contract last winter, they included a no-trade clause in the deal. Now, Fowler tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he and his family love their new city. He also enjoys being part of the Cardinals organization. “I see myself being here for a long time. It’s what I signed up for,” the center fielder said. “That’s what my contract says. I’m looking to build a legacy with my teammates.” Fowler had a terrific offensive season to kick off his Redbirds tenure, hitting .264/.363/.488 with 18 home runs in 491 plate appearances, but injuries limited him to 118 games and advanced metrics indicate he had a rough time in the field (minus-18 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-5.9 Ultimate Zone Rating).
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Outfield, Tuivailala, Pitching Staff]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103855 2017-10-02T15:34:05Z 2017-10-02T15:34:05Z Outfielder Randal Grichuk ended not only his 2017 season but possibly his Cardinals career with a solo home run on Sunday, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards have an oft-discussed glut of outfielders with Grichuk, Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, Harrison Bader and Magneuris Sierra all on the big league roster, plus prospect Tyler O’Neill in Triple-A Memphis. St. Louis will look to reduce its redundancies on the roster this winter, and Goold points out that the arbitration-eligible Grichuk carries a similar profile to the powerful-but-strikeout-prone O’Neill. Controllable through 2020, the 26-year-old Grichuk brings significant power (career .239 ISO) and a center-field-capable glove to the table but has also continually struggled to make contact. Through 1386 MLB plate appearances, Grichuk has a 29.9 percent strikeout rate. In 442 PAs in 2017, he hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 long balls and a 30.1 percent strikeout rate.

    More out of St. Louis…

    • Right-hander Sam Tuivailala will be out of options in 2018, and his strong finish to the season looks to have earned him a spot in next year’s bullpen, writes Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch“He’s continued to move his way up in how we viewed him,” said manager Mike Matheny. The 24-year-old Tuivailala was optioned to the minors on three different occasions in 2017, his final option year, but wound up totaling 42 1/3 innings with a 2.55 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, a 48.8 percent ground-ball rate and a strong 23.4 percent weak-contact rate. President of baseball ops John Mozeliak tells Hummel that he’s long been excited about “Tui,” but the righty simply hasn’t had consistent opportunities until late in the year. “I think he finished strong, and I think he helped himself,” said Mozeliak.
    • While the Cardinals’ bullpen gets much of the blame for the team missing the postseason, Bernie Miklasz of ESPN 101 points out that St. Louis relievers ranked well in both ERA and Win Probability Added — even late in the year after the loss of Trevor Rosenthal. However, the starting rotation faltered significantly, Miklasz writes, failing to make it to the fifth inning in six of the team’s final 13 games and posting an ERA just shy of 5.00 over the Cardinals’ final 42 games of the year. While there’s undoubtedly work to be done in the ’pen this winter, the rotation indeed looks like an area in need of reinforcements as well. Lance Lynn is set to hit the open market, and Adam Wainwright is undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery tomorrow — further creating uncertainty on the starting staff.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Matt Carpenter Won't Require Shoulder Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103826 2017-10-02T02:50:07Z 2017-10-02T02:50:07Z
  • Matt Carpenter won’t require surgery on his right shoulder, he tells MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link).  An MRI revealed only inflammation in the shoulder, which has been a nagging concern for the Cardinals infielder.  Possibly due to the injury, Carpenter saw drops in his batting average and slugging percentage from his previous two seasons, though he was still quite productive, hitting .241/.384/.451 with 23 home runs over 622 plate appearances for St. Louis.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR, we checked in with more notes from both Central divisions, including items on the Royals, Indians, Cardinals and Tigers.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Adam Wainwright To Undergo Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103814 2017-10-01T21:50:01Z 2017-10-01T21:50:01Z
  • Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow on Tuesday, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The procedure won’t jeopardize Wainwright’s spring training availability or his spot in the Redbirds’ rotation next year, according to manager Mike Matheny. Wainwright went on the disabled list with an elbow impingement Aug. 18 and only pitched one more time in 2017, on Sept. 23. The former ace finished the season with a career-worst ERA and walk rate (5.11 and 3.28, respectively) over 123 1/3 innings.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jose Martinez Could Be Cards' Regular First Baseman In 2018]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103784 2017-10-01T16:23:24Z 2017-10-01T16:23:24Z
  • Jose Martinez will have an opportunity to win the Cardinals’ first base job in 2018, manager Mike Matheny suggested to reporters, including Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Saturday. “He’s going to fight for it. I don’t know why he couldn’t (be the regular first baseman),” said Matheny, who also named Luke Voit as a candidate for the role. The majority of the work at first this year has gone to franchise linchpin Matt Carpenter, but he could shift back to second/third base next season. Like Carpenter, Martinez has been one of the Cards’ top offensive players in 2017. In his first extensive action in the majors, the 29-year-old rookie has batted an excellent .306/.377/.517 with 14 home runs in 306 PAs. Voit, a 26-year-old rookie, has hit .252/.308/.441 in 120 PAs.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Juan Nicasio Wants To Re-Sign With Cardinals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103768 2017-10-01T03:06:27Z 2017-10-01T03:06:27Z
  • The Cardinals have discussed a new contract with impending free agent reliever Juan Nicasio, who made it clear Saturday that he’d like to re-sign with the club. “Try and make a good deal. I want to stay here,” Nicasio told his agent (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Twitter). Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia on Sept. 6, Nicasio has served as the Cardinals’ closer down the stretch and thrown 10 innings of two-run ball with the team. In 71 1/3 innings divided among Pittsburgh, Philly and St. Louis this season, the 31-year-old has put up a 2.61 ERA and logged 8.69 K/9 against 2.49 BB/9.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Lynn, Nicasio]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103722 2017-09-30T04:05:58Z 2017-09-30T04:05:58Z
  • The Cardinals don’t expect extensions with any of their upcoming free agents before the season is over, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  This includes Lance Lynn, whose representatives haven’t had any in-depth talks with the club about a new deal.  When asked if Thursday’s start could be his last with the Cardinals, Lynn said it “certainly looks that way.”  Lynn looks to be one of the top pitchers available in this year’s free agent market, and it appears he’ll be departing a Cards rotation that will mostly be relying on promising younger arms in 2018.
  • Also from Goold’s article, he reports that the Cardinals have been in touch with Juan Nicasio about a new deal.  Nicasio came to St. Louis after a rather surprising series of transactions that saw the right-hander waived by the Pirates, claimed by the Phillies and then dealt to the Cards all within a week’s time at the end of August and in early September.  No matter the uniform, Nicasio pitched well, posting a 2.65 ERA, 3.55 K/BB rate and 71 strikeouts over 71 1/3 innings for his three teams, making a league-high 75 appearances.  The Cardinals have clearly liked what they’ve seen in their short time with Nicasio on the roster and may be trying to lock Nicasio up before he hits the open market.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Expected To Pursue Josh Donaldson In Trade Talks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103654 2017-09-29T21:38:35Z 2017-09-29T21:38:35Z
  • The Cardinals “are expected to strongly pursue” a trade for Josh Donaldson during the offseason, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter).  The Cards’ internal interest in Donaldson was initially reported last July though at that time, no offers had been made.  Jedd Gyorko saw the bulk of action at third base for St. Louis last season (with Greg Garcia getting a fair amount of action as a left-handed hitting complement) and Gyorko could be a possible candidate to be headed back to the Blue Jays as part of a deal.  The Cardinals have a surplus of both outfielders and multi-positional infielders, so they’re a fit for Toronto’s needs as potential trade partners.  Of course, there hasn’t been any indication that the Jays are actually shopping their star third baseman.  Donaldson is a free agent after the 2018 season, though with the Jays planning to contend next year, it would take a massive offer to get them to part ways with the former AL MVP.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Promote Moises Rodriguez To Assistant GM]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103513 2017-09-27T23:12:06Z 2017-09-27T23:12:06Z The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that they’ve promoted director of international operations Moises Rodriguez to the position of assistant general manager. Rodriguez has spent 10 years working in the Cardinals’ front office, and the team notes within its press release that he was “instrumental” in signing and developing prospects such as Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, Magneuris Sierra and the late Oscar Taveras. Born in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez explained in discussing his new title (video link via the Cardinals, on Twitter) that he grew up in New York City cheering for the Cardinals while largely surrounded by Mets fans. Newly promoted GM Michael Girsch says that Rodriguez has done “an amazing job” building out the team’s international department, adding that Rodriguez’s views at times differ from his own, which is “ideal” and “makes everyone better.” The Cardinals did not name a new director of international operations and expect to do so “early this offseason,” per their release.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Altuve, Yadi, Olson, Red Sox]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103396 2017-09-26T05:04:23Z 2017-09-26T05:04:23Z Here are the latest health notes from around the game:

    • The Astros dodged a bullet tonight when star second baseman Jose Altuve left the game after being struck on the forearm by a pitch. Thankfully, as Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets, x-rays came back negative. The diminutive 27-year-old is leading the American League in hits for the fourth consecutive year and in batting average for the third time in four seasons. He’s also pacing qualified batters with a career-best 168 OPS+.
    • Also departing with an injury tonight was Cardinals veteran Yadier Molina. The team announced that he’s undergoing testing as part of the concussion protocol after taking two consecutive foul balls off of his mask. His status for the rest of the regular season remains uncertain, but it could become a bigger issue if St. Louis can claw into Wild Card position.
    • Athletics slugger Matt Olson has been diagnosed with a grade 2 hamstring strain, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. He’s very likely to miss the remainder of the season, but it won’t put a damper on an exciting campaign. Olson, 23, has streaked to 24 long balls in 216 trips to the plate, with a robust .259/.352/.651 batting line. He’ll fall shy of a full year of service, too, so the A’s will control Olson for six more campaigns.
    • Things didn’t go quite as hoped for the Red Sox tonight. Lefty Drew Pomeranz was sitting in the high-eighties with his fastball, though he says that was part of a plan to save some gas for the later innings, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Star outfielder Mookie Betts left with a wrist issue, though there’s no reason as yet to think it’s significant. Of the greatest concern, perhaps, infielder Eduardo Nunez tweaked his injured knee. He suggested that he’ll sit out a few more games and try again to return, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald tweets.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Bill DeWitt On State Of Cardinals Franchise]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103378 2017-09-25T22:38:49Z 2017-09-25T22:38:49Z In a Q&A led by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt provides some reflections on the team’s performance so far in 2017, as well as some subtle insights into the organization’s plans for this offseason and the future. DeWitt mentions that the organization can afford to add payroll, but won’t “spend just to spend”. He also explains that the Cards prefer a balanced core of young starting pitchers and position players, rather than trying to build with a focus on one or the other. DeWitt expressed confidence in Mike Matheny as the right person to lead the Cardinals into the future. The interview is a great read, particularly for a fan of the Cardinals franchise.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Aledmys Diaz Returns To Cardinals, Role Remains Unclear]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103159 2017-09-21T15:53:24Z 2017-09-21T15:23:13Z
  • Shortstop Aledmys Diaz is back with the Cardinals after an extended run at Triple-A, but as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, his role with the organization — now and in the future — is quite uncertain. Diaz has moved around the infield a bit at Triple-A, perhaps creating some new versatility, though he continued to struggle at the plate. With Paul DeJong now seemingly ensconced at short, Diaz will need to carve out a new role or wait for an opportunity to open with the Cards or, perhaps, some other organization.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Wainwright, Weaver, Wisdom]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103096 2017-09-20T01:59:08Z 2017-09-20T01:59:08Z The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that they’ve activated right-hander Adam Wainwright from the disabled list. The longtime St. Louis ace has been out since Aug. 17 due to an impingement in his right elbow. Wainwright is reportedly ticketed for a bullpen role upon his return from the disabled list, as the Cards will roll with Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and young starters Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty as their starting five through season’s end. The 36-year-old Wainwright has struggled for a consecutive season, following up last year’s 4.62 ERA with a 5.12 mark in just 121 1/3 innings. He’s signed through next season and will earn $19.5MM next year.

    A bit more on the Cards…

    • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a lengthy look at the Cardinals’ use of cut fastballs over the past several years, dating back to Chris Carpenter’s emergence with an explosive cutter that transformed him into one of baseball’s best pitchers. Goold speaks with Wainwright, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, manager Mike Matheny and others about the organization’s use of the cutter. Notably, Weaver tells Goold that he’s begun to experiment with the pitch and ultimately believes that a cutter will be an important part of his arsenal, but he’s not yet fully comfortable with the pitch. It’s an interesting look not only at the Cardinals’ usage of the pitch but also at the more general strengths and weaknesses of the pitch as well as its its usage rate throughout the years.
    • MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tackles several Cardinals-related topics in her latest Inbox column, beginning with the omission of Triple-A slugger Patrick Wisdom from the team’s group of September call-ups. The 52nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Wisdom showed significant power in Triple-A this year, hitting .243/.310/.507 with 31 homers and 25 doubles in 506 plate appearances. As Langosch points out, Wisdom will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason if the Cardinals don’t add him to the 40-man roster, thus making him available to 29 other clubs. The Cardinals haven’t had a significant need at the infield corners this year, however, limiting chances for Wisdom to get a look in the Majors. The Cardinals could, however, still include Wisdom among their final wave of September promotions now that the minor league season has come to a close.

    [Related: St. Louis Cardinals depth chart and payroll outlook]

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Wainwright To Pitch In Relief For Remainder Of Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103005 2017-09-18T14:48:13Z 2017-09-18T14:24:57Z
  • Injured Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright won’t start again in 2017, but he’ll return to the club as a reliever for the final few weeks, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright faced teammates Magneuris Sierra, Luke Voit and Alex Mejia in a live batting practice session Sunday morning, per Goold, with manager Mike Matheny catching. Rookie Jack Flaherty will make three more starts this season in what was Wainwright’s rotation spot, though he could be paired with either Wainwright or John Gant in a “piggyback” type of setting, per Goold, where he’d be lifted after four to five innings to help preserve his workload. Interestingly, Goold also notes that Wainwright tried out the changeup grip of young teammate Luke Weaver during his most recent throwing session and will test it out in games over the season’s final weeks.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Hernandez, Wainwright, Marisnick, Johnson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102767 2017-09-14T18:22:33Z 2017-09-14T18:19:43Z As planned, Felix Hernandez will come off the DL to start tonight for the Mariners, according to a club announcement. It’ll be King Felix’s first start for Seattle since July 31st. It’s been a tough year for the righty so far (this was his second stint on the disabled list for issues with his throwing shoulder), but he’ll have a chance to turn things around and keep the Mariners breathing in the AL Wild Card chase.

    Some other injury news and updates from around MLB…

    • Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright threw a bullpen session today, according to a tweet from MLB beat reporter Jenifer Langosch. At this point in the season, and with the Cards three games back in a battle for the NL Central pennant, it seems likely that the veteran will pitch out of the bullpen upon his return. Langosch also notes that reliever Seung-hwan Oh threw a bullpen session as well, while Jedd Gyorko and Dexter Fowler took practice on the field.
    • Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick left Wednesday’s game with an apparent thumb injury after sliding into second base in the top of the third inning. Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle offers some thoughts on the unfortunate situation for the AL West-leading Astros, noting that the recently-acquired Cameron Maybin and rookie Derek Fisher are likely to see increases in playing time. The organization hasn’t released details on the severity of the injury, but manager A.J. Hinch offered that, “It doesn’t look good.” For reference, significant thumb injuries — such as fractures or ligament tears — frequently require absences of at least six to eight weeks. More information will likely be available sometime after Marisnick undergoes tests in Houston today.
    • Veteran reliever Jim Johnson of the Atlanta Braves has been diagnosed with achilles tendinitis, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He remained in Atlanta while the team traveled to Washington, and Braves manager Brian Snitker says he’s unlikely to pitch this weekend. Johnson is in the first year of a 2-year, $10MM deal with the Braves. It remains to be seen whether he’ll pitch again this season, but its certainly an unfortunate development for Johnson after losing the closer role to Arodys Vizcaino already this season. For Atlanta, the loss of Johnson thins out a bullpen that already has the fifth-highest ERA among all major league teams.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102751 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:

    Keepers

    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Dexter Fowler To Miss Few Games Due To Knee Contusion]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102493 2017-09-10T17:24:57Z 2017-09-10T17:24:57Z
  • Dexter Fowler will be out of action “for at least a few days” due to a left knee contusion, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports (Twitter link).  Fowler suffered the injury crashing into the outfield wall in pursuit of an Adam Frazier fly ball last night, and Fowler was forced to leave the game.  The good news is that an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage to Fowler’s knee.  Fowler as been productive (.255/.356/.470, 15 homers) when he’s been able to play this season, though a variety of injuries has limited the Cardinals outfielder to 436 PA and 106 games.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Links: Nicasio, Outfield Logjam]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102300 2017-09-07T04:57:38Z 2017-09-07T04:17:19Z
  • There are a few more details available on the strange circumstances that led to the Cardinals acquiring reliever Juan Nicasio from the Phillies earlier today– but without the ability to utilize him in the postseason. A team other than the Cards won the claim for Nicasio when the Pirates put him on trade waivers in August (only to pull him back when no deal was reached), per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Rather, it may actually have been yet another NL Central rival — the Cubs — that had the highest-priority claim on Nicasio last month, per Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — which would mean the Cards bypassed a shot at adding him at that time. In any event, St. Louis did place a successful claim this time around, when the Phillies ran him through trade waivers after acquiring him via outright waivers on the last day of August, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets.
  • Looking further out into the future for the Cardinals, the team faces a potentially interesting slate of questions — and possibilities — involving its outfield in the coming offseason. As Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, picking and choosing between the many existing options carries plenty of risk, but also perhaps could open some intriguing avenues to shoring up other needs. “The question is balancing future projection on performance relative to playing time,” says president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. “Clearly you’ve seen some exciting things from really everybody involved. But at some point we’re going to have to decide who we think our top three outfielders are.” While players such as Harrison Bader, Jose Martinez, and Magneuris Sierra don’t have much experience, all occupy 40-man spots and are arguably ready for a full shot at the majors. Tyler O’Neill is pushing for his own opportunity and will need to be added to the MLB roster. With high-priced free agent Dexter Fowler and breakout star Tommy Pham seemingly unlikely to go anywhere, that could leave the Cards considering deals involving still-youthful, former top prospects Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Acquire Juan Nicasio]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102261 2017-09-06T19:03:19Z 2017-09-06T18:34:24Z The Phillies announced that they have traded right-hander Juan Nicasio to the Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Eliezer Alvarez. Philadelphia had recently claimed Nicasio off outright waivers from the Pirates. Nicasio will give the Cardinals’ bullpen a boost, though since he’s been acquired after Aug. 31, he won’t be eligible for the postseason roster if St. Louis qualifies. Nicasio is a free agent after the season.

    Juan Nicasio | Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsNicasio’s time with the Phillies will last all of a week, bringing to a close one of the more puzzling sequences in recent August trade history. The Pirates were unable to pass Nicasio through revocable trade waivers last month, ultimately pulling him back off waivers and placing him on outright waivers and instead losing him to the Phillies, who had top waiver priority, for nothing other than salary relief that amounted to roughly $600K.

    The move was confusing enough that Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington felt the need to explain the team’s rationale to the media. Per Huntington, Nicasio was claimed by a “playoff-caliber” team on trade waivers — it’s not clear if that Cardinals were that club, though it’d make sense — and the Bucs opted to place him on outright waivers in hopes of getting him to an AL contender rather than helping a “direct competitor.” (Trade waivers are league-specific, whereas outright waiver priority ignores league and is solely determined in reverse order of MLB standings.)

    Nicasio will ultimately end up with a direct competitor of the Pirates anyhow, though he won’t be able to pitch in the postseason. Moreover, the Phillies will make out extremely well in this deal, as Alvarez entered the season ranked 10th on Baseball America’s list of the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects. He currently ranks 19th among St. Louis farmhands in the eyes of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. In essence, the Phillies were able to claim a Cardinals prospect off waivers, which ultimately cost them about $138K in terms of salary (the pro-rated portion of Nicasio’s week-long tenure with the team).

    For the Cardinals, Nicasio immediately becomes one of their best relievers. Through 61 1/3 innings, Nicasio has averaged 8.95 K/9, 2.64 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate en route to an excellent 2.79 ERA. The 31-year-old has averaged a career-best 95.4 mph on his heater in 2017 and is sporting a 10.7 percent swinging-strike rate that would rank third among current St. Louis relievers (not including the injured Trevor Rosenthal, who led the team’s bullpen in that regard).

    Alvarez, 23 next month, has spent the season with St. Louis’ Double-A affiliate, hitting .247/.321/.382 with four homers and eight steals (in 11 tries). Those numbers don’t immediately stand out, though it’s worth noting that Alvarez skipped Class-A Advanced entirely and was considerably younger than the league average in Double-A.

    Callis and Mayo note in their free scouting report that Alvarez has a line-drive approach with a knack for making hard contact and could eventually grow into more power. He’s an above-average runner and could profile as a regular at second base down the line if everything breaks right for him. Alvarez was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so he’ll go onto the Phillies’ 40-man roster and fill the spot that was vacated by trading Nicasio.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Injury Notes: Imhof, Goldschmidt, Ahmed, Carpenter, Fedde]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102158 2017-09-05T13:34:14Z 2017-09-05T13:34:14Z Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer sat down with former Phillies pitching prospect Matt Imhof to discuss the tragic accident that derailed his once-promising career and left him without his right eye. His journey offers worthwhile lessons to everyone, especially those with a passion for baseball.

    Here are the latest updates on injury situations from around the National League:

    • The Diamondbacks are awaiting the results of an MRI on the right elbow of star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. Goldschmidt himself suggests he’s not too concerned about the discomfort he has experienced in the joint — he describes it as tightness that recedes once he has loosened up — though the team is surely wise to take a proactive approach with such a key player.
    • Meanwhile, Diamondbacks infielder Nick Ahmed will undergo surgery after suffering a fractured wrist, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert tweets. Odds are, then, that he’s done for the year after twice suffering broken bones on pitched balls. The 27-year-old will qualify for arbitration this fall, though his injury-shortened season and lack of offensive output will tamp down on his earning power quite a bit. In just over three hundred total major league games, Ahmed has established himself as a quality defender but owns only a .226/.273/.345 batting line with twenty home runs.
    • The Cardinals are dealing with a few position-player injuries, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Infielder Matt Carpenter will likely undergo an MRI and may also require an injection to deal with ongoing shoulder issues. It seems those problems have nagged Carpenter all season long, though it became a particular problem during yesterday’s contest and may now require some rest. Outfielder Tommy Pham is also dealing with some shoulder difficulties, though he’s not expected to miss time at this point.
    • Nationals righty Erick Fedde will be shut down for the rest of the season after he was diagnosed with a strained flexor mass, as Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports. Though GM Mike Rizzo explained that the injury isn’t all that worrisome — the strain occurred away from the elbow joint, which is not damaged — the club decided the time was right to put its best pitching prospect on ice. Fedde, 24, is generally seen as the organization’s top pitching prospect, though he has gone through some struggles over the second half of this season since moving up to Triple-A and then on to the majors. Depending upon the club’s offseason moves, Fedde could challenge for a rotation or bullpen spot next spring.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside The Cardinals' Unusual Youth Movement]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102077 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z
  • The Cardinals are attempting to rebuild and contend all at once, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at how the team is trying the unusual tactic of using young players (rather than experienced veterans) as midseason and late-season roster upgrades.  The plan requires a lot of faith in the minor league system, though many of the youngsters deployed by the Cards this year have been very productive.  “We were able to start making some moves that look forward without detracting from today. We sort of jump-started our offseason a little early by opening up opportunities,” GM Michael Girsch said.
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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Phillies Claim Kevin Siegrist From Cardinals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101963 2017-09-02T18:13:12Z 2017-09-02T18:02:11Z The Phillies have announced that they’ve claimed lefty Kevin Siegrist from the Cardinals. The Cards designated Siegrist for assignment on Thursday as they activated him from a stint he spent on the DL with forearm tendinitis. To clear space on their 40-man roster, the Phillies have transferred righty Jerad Eickhoff (hand) to the 60-day DL.

    Siegrist was a key reliever for the Cardinals in 2015 and 2016, when he combined for a 2.44 ERA, 10.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 over 136 1/3 innings. This season, though, he’s dealt with a neck injury in addition to the forearm problem, and he’s posted a 4.98 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9 over 34 1/3 innings. He’s also dealt with somewhat diminished velocity, with his mid-90s heater dipping more into the 92-93 MPH range.

    Siegrist is, however, eligible for arbitration for two more seasons after this one and he’s making a modest $1.64MM this year. Assuming he’s able to come back healthy, the Phillies can use the rest of the season to get a read on him, then decide if they want to keep him in their bullpen as a relatively cheap addition for 2018. The Phillies, despite not contending this season, have also already shown somewhat of a willingness to take on short-term veteran bullpen upgrades, having also recently added Juan Nicasio on a waiver claim.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Notable September Call-Ups]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101842 2017-09-02T07:02:41Z 2017-09-02T03:00:58Z September 1 marks the date on which regular-season rosters expand from 25 to 40 in Major League Baseball. While the merit of that rule and its impact on games are a source of debate — MLB games tend to increase considerably in length in September as managers can more freely make pitching changes with deeper bullpens — the fact remains that there could be more than 100 players promoted to the big leagues today as the first wave of call-ups arrives.

    Many September call-ups are players that have experience already under their belt. Journeyman big leaguers with exceptionally specific roles (e.g. pinch-running and defensive specialists) become a luxury that teams can now afford, and many teams will bring up a third catcher or additional bullpen arms for depth, even if a long-term MLB role isn’t likely for said players.

    Some promotions, though, are more notable than others. Big league teams will often use the month of September to get a look at their top organizational prospects, and in some instances September can provide a potential audition for former stars seeking to reestablish themselves. (The Orioles, for instance, were reported last night to be bringing slugger Pedro Alvarez up from Triple-A for the season’s final month.)

    All that said, here are some of this year’s more notable September promotions (we’ll update throughout the day as more moves are announced)…

    • Four new youngsters are joining the Cardinals, the team announced. Outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Alex Mejia were already on the 40-man, but the team has also gone ahead and added righty Sandy Alcantara and backstop Alberto Rosario. Alcantara is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on, as he reputedly comes with a big arm and could contribute from the bullpen — though he’s still ironing things out as a starter after spending the year pitching to a 4.31 ERA at Double-A.
    • The Indians announced that they’ve recalled top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Double-A Akron and selected the contract of outfielder Greg Allen from Akron, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old Mejia is commonly regarded as one of the top 25 prospects in all of Major League Baseball and was reportedly the would-be centerpiece to the Jonathan Lucroy trade that Lucroy vetoed in 2016. Allen, too, was set to be a part of that trade but has instead remained in the Indians organization and will now join Mejia in donning a big league jersey for the first time this month.
    • Right-hander Fernando Salas will return to the Angels, who announced last night that his contract has been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Salas spent parts of three seasons as a useful bullpen arm for the Angels before a trade to the Mets last August. While he dominated for New York down the stretch, Salas was torched for a 6.00 ERA this year after re-signing with the Mets. He tossed three scoreless innings in Salt Lake City and will hope for a strong finish to bolster offseason interest.
    • The Blue Jays, too, will be getting another look at an old friend. Outfielder Michael Saunders is joining the Jays as a September call-up, tweets MLB.com’s Greg Johns. While Saunders is merely looking to show well in his return to the Majors after struggling badly with the Phillies earlier this season, another outfielder is looking to carve out a long-term role in Toronto; trade acquisition Teoscar Hernandez is also on his way to the Majors, per Johns. The 24-year-old Hernandez was acquired in the Francisco Liriano swap and has posted a combined .265/.351/.490 batting line in 456 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
    • The Mets are promoting right-handers Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. While neither reliever is considered to be among the game’s best prospects — they rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, on MLB.com’s list of the Mets’ top 30 prospects — both were recently acquired on the trade market. Rhame came to the Mets from the Dodgers as the return for Curtis Granderson, while Callahan arrived in Queens by way of the Addison Reed trade with the Red Sox. Both will be looking to make a strong impression as they seek to secure a long-term spot in the Mets’ bullpen.
    • The Tigers are getting their first look at left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt, per a team announcement. The 23-year-old was acquired alongside Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange fo David Price back in 2015. He’s turned in an excellent 2.17 ERA across three minor league levels this season and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit with some shaky control (4.5 BB/9).
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Designate Kevin Siegrist For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101715 2017-08-31T19:27:37Z 2017-08-31T19:18:35Z The Cardinals announced on Thursday that they’ve activated left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist from the 10-day disabled list and designated him for assignment. The 28-year-old had been on the disabled list due to a bout of left forearm tendinitis.

    The 28-year-old Siegrist was one of the Cardinals’ top setup options in 2015-16 and appeared in a league-leading 81 games out of the St. Louis ’pen back in 2015. Over the 2015-16 seasons, he worked to a combined 2.44 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 over the life of 136 1/3 innings.

    The 2017 campaign, though, has been another story entirely. Siegrist has been bothered by some health issues this year, and he’s posted a generally unappealing 4.98 ERA with a deteriorated (but still strong) 9.4 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9. Siegrist averaged 94 mph on his heater in that excellent 2015 season, but that average dipped down to 92 mph this season as he’s struggled to stay healthy.

    That said, there’s a possibility that Siegrist could draw some quick trade interest if he’s deemed healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $1.635MM in 2017 and is controlled for another two years beyond the current campaign via arbitration. His sub-par results this year should act to suppress any raise he’d earn via that arbitration process, so he could be a perfectly affordable bullpen piece for a team next season, if not for the final month of the 2017 campaign.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Leake Trade, Lynn, Outfield, Weaver]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101650 2017-08-31T15:00:16Z 2017-08-31T14:50:28Z The Cardinals’ trade of right-hander Mike Leake didn’t go over well with his now-former teammates, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I said, ’Is this a joke?’ … It was shocking to all of us,” outfielder Tommy Pham tells Hummel, describing the moment he learned of the news. Right-hander Lance Lynn’s comments suggested a bit of frustration as well: “If you look at everything that’s happened so far, there’s been no acquisitions (by the Cardinals).”

    Lynn also further addressed the lack of extension talks between the Cardinals and his agents. “I’m sure whenever the time comes — when the World Series is over and five days after, I’m sure somebody will talk to me,” said Lynn. “…They’ve had a whole season. Five days isn’t going to matter. But I just work here.” Cards fans will definitely want to check out the full column for more player quotes as well as notes on Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.

    A bit more out of St. Louis…

    • The Cardinals have collected an abundance of outfield talent in the minors and could potentially trade from that depth this winter, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re not going to have enough room at the inn,” said president of baseball operations John Mozeliak of his organization’s outfield depth. “That is something we, as an organization, are going to have to take a very hard look at this offseason and decide what makes the most sense.” St. Louis was reportedly open to considering trades involving Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Their minor league ranks include Magneuris Sierra, Harrison Bader, recently acquired Tyler O’Neill, international signee/former Cuban pro Randy Arozarena as well as the much-improved Oscar Mercado, whose stock has risen considerably in 2017, Goold notes as part of his in-depth look at the team’s outfield stockpile. St. Louis is known to be seeking an impact bat for the middle of the lineup and, more speculatively speaking, could also pursue rotation help (especially if Lynn departs) and bullpen arms.
    • Right-hander Luke Weaver has impressed the Cardinals this month and looks more and more like a long-term asset in St. Louis, writes MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. While he was initially stepping into the spot of the injured Wainwright, the trade of Leake now creates a potential long-term opening for Weaver, who has turned in 29 innings with a 2.48 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 50.7 percent ground-ball rate. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun sang Weaver’s praises when speaking with Langosch after facing him in two separate games this month. And, asked if Weaver will hold a rotation spot through season’s end, Cards skipper Mike Matheny replied, “There’s no reason he shouldn’t be here.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals To Promote Jack Flaherty]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101611 2017-08-30T21:33:25Z 2017-08-30T21:20:55Z The Cardinals will promote right-hander Jack Flaherty from Triple-A Memphis to make his MLB debut by starting Friday’s game against the Giants, per a team announcement. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but this morning’s unexpected trade of Mike Leake to the Mariners opened both a 40-man roster spot as well as a spot in the St. Louis rotation.

    Jack Flaherty | Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsFlaherty, 21, was the 34th overall pick in the 2014 draft and ranked as the game’s No. 53 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason top 100 list. Both Baseball America and Fangraphs rated Flaherty comparably, at No. 57, on their own summer rankings of baseball’s top 100 prospects.

    Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note in their free scouting report that Flaherty’s velocity has ticked up to the mid-90s this year, adding that he has three “usable” secondary offerings, with his changeup the best of the bunch as a potential plus pitch down the line. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen calls him a potential above-average starter, offering a similar take on his improved arsenal in 2017.

    The 6’4″, 205-pound Flaherty is a product of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles — the same program that produced top picks Lucas Giolito and Max Fried. Flaherty opened the 2017 season at Double-A and dominated Texas League opponents to the tune of a 1.42 ERA through 63 1/3 innings before being bumped up to Memphis. His results in the Triple-A International League were similarly impressive, as Flaherty has logged a 2.94 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate through 85 1/3 frames there.

    The Cardinals’ clear hope is the Flaherty, Luke Weaver and currently injured but high-ceilinged Alex Reyes can occupy spots in their rotation for years to come. Flaherty is the last of the bunch to arrive in the Majors, and if he’s here to stay, he won’t qualify for arbitration until after the 2020 season. The earliest that Flaherty could become a free agent, given his current trajectory, would be upon completion of the 2023 campaign.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Lance Lynn, John Mozeliak Discuss Mike Leake Trade]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101602 2017-08-30T19:52:07Z 2017-08-30T19:28:30Z In the wake of today’s Mike Leake trade, some have wondered whether the Cardinals might be more inclined to bring back fellow right-hander Lance Lynn, who’s set to reach free agency this fall. But Lynn himself suggested that, at a minimum, that’s hardly an inevitability. As Chris Lee of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, the veteran hurler says there has “been zero communication” between his camp and the Cards’ front office about a new contract. You’ll want to read all of his comments for yourself, but it certainly did not sound as if the 30-year-old is entirely sanguine about the chances of a reunion.

    • It’s worth noting, too, that Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has emphasized a desire to rely on the team’s younger arms in explaining the Leake swap, as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com tweets. That would seem to suggest that Luke Weaver and others factor prominently in the club’s plans for 2018 (and, of course, beyond). Mozeliak covered a few of the up-and-coming hurlers in his comments today, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covers in his story on the trade.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mariners Acquire Mike Leake]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101575 2017-08-30T19:55:16Z 2017-08-30T15:12:36Z 12:07pm: The Cardinals will send the Mariners around $17MM, Rosenthal tweets.

    10:12am: In a surprising development, the Cardinals have dealt righty Mike Leake to the Mariners. Young infielder Rayder Ascanio will go to St. Louis in the swap, with $750K of international bonus pool spending capacity and unannounced cash considerations also heading to Seattle.

    Aug 15, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake (8) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s not yet known how much cash the M’s will take on in the deal or what players may be headed in return. Leake had already cleared revocable waivers, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). That was to be expected. Leake is earning $15MM this year, with about $2.5MM left to go. He remains under contract through 2020, with a $53MM total guarantee — including a $5MM buyout of a 2021 mutual option.

    Leake’s contract includes full no-trade protection, so his approval was required for the deal to go through. He has indeed waived the clause, per Nightengale (Twitter link). Notably, Leake has spoken of his desire to be closer to family in Arizona and will now at least get to spend Spring Training there; that motivation and others may have aided his decision.

    [RELATED: Updated Mariners & Cardinals Depth Charts]

    Since signing on with the Cards before the 2016 season, Leake has shown the durability that earned him the contract, throwing 330 2/3 innings over 56 starts. But he has also managed only a 4.46 cumulative ERA while compiling 6.2 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9. Leake has struggled especially of late, working to an 8.88 ERA in his five starts in August.

    Assuming he can get back on track, Leake will help steady a Seattle rotation that has faced a steady barrage of injuries. Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Drew Smyly are all on the DL, with only the first two expected to return this season. The club has fallen three games off of the AL Wild Card pace, but evidently still feels compelled to push for the postseason this year.

    Of course, Leake will also represent a piece of the future picture. The Mariners will almost certainly bid adieu to Iwakuma, Smyly, and Yovani Gallardo over the winter. Erasmo Ramirez and even David Phelps — both acquired earlier this summer — could be rotation options (though the latter has worked from the pen), as could Gonzales. Still the team was clearly in need of at least one more arm to go along with King Felix and the Big Maple.

    This is the second notable recent swap between these organizations, who had previously struck a deal that sent young lefty Marco Gonzales to Seattle for outfielder Tyler O’Neill. Leake may well end up bumping Gonzales out of the Mariners rotation for the time being.

    Seattle will also pick up some bonus pool money, which St. Louis wasn’t able to utilize anyway following penalties for prior spending. The Cards will also add the 21-year-old Ascanio, a middle infielder out of Venezuela. Ascanio has played at the Class A and High-A levels this year, posting a .217/.295/.355 slash over 450 total plate appearances. That’s not a lot of offense, though he has knocked nine balls over the fence — more than he had over his four prior professional seasons combined.

    St. Louis remains in the hunt for both the NL Central crown and a Wild Card spot, though the team enters play today five games out of the postseason picture. While the rotation has had its issues, Luke Weaver has emerged as a quality option since returning to the majors recently, perhaps freeing the club to deal Leake. Another young righty, Jack Flaherty, likely isn’t far behind.

    Ultimately, dealing Leake may have more to do with future considerations than the club’s immediate postseason hopes. Moving some of the contract will open some payroll space for 2018 and beyond, though it also takes away one rotation option with Lance Lynn slated to hit the open market and Adam Wainwright entering the final year of his contract. The club does still control Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, in addition to the two talented but less-experienced arms noted above, and will hopefully welcome Alex Reyes back into the fold next year. Parting with Leake, though, could conceivably keep the door open for the return of Lynn or lead the team to acquire another rotation piece over the offseason.

    Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) first said a deal involving Leake was close, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Jen Langosch tweeted the detail on the international money.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Have Reportedly Expressed Strongest Interest In Giancarlo Stanton]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101453 2017-08-28T17:14:07Z 2017-08-28T17:14:07Z The Phillies, Cardinals and Rangers are among the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to express interest in slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale cites a “high-ranking Marlins executive” in reporting that the Giants are the club that has expressed the most interest.

    Miami has surged back to within striking distance of an NL Wild Card spot (largely due to Stanton’s recent heroics), so Stanton won’t be changing hands until this offseason, at the earliest. However, despite the recent offensive spike — Stanton is hitting .356/.462/.925 with 29 homers in his past 47 games — there are still numerous obstacles to a potential Stanton swap. Stanton’s 13-year contract affords him full no-trade protection, and Nightengale adds that not one prospective trade partner has expressed a willingness to absorb the remaining 10 years and $295MM on Stanton’s contract beyond the 2017 season.

    Beyond that, the Giants’ minor league system is not very well regarded. Tyler Beede entered the year as the top pitching prospect in San Francisco’s minor league ranks, but he’s had a poor season in Triple-A this year (albeit in a very hitter friendly environment). He’s now likely to miss the final two months of the season with a groin injury. Fellow right-hander Joan Gregorio posted a 3.04 ERA in 74 Triple-A innings but carried some questionable secondary metrics and saw his season end in early July due to a PED suspension.

    On paper, the Giants make a fair amount of sense as a trading partner for Stanton. San Francisco, as a team, ranks dead last in the Majors with 101 home runs this season. Stanton alone has nearly half that number, while the 29th-ranked Padres have out-homered the Giants by 25. That lack of pop is all the more glaring at a time when home runs are being hit at a record pace throughout the league.

    More specifically, the Giants’ outfield has been the worst in baseball this year by measure of slugging percentage, OPS and fWAR. They rank 29th in on-base percentage, ISO and wRC+ as well. Incumbent right fielder Hunter Pence will turn 35 next April and has struggled to a career-worst .254/.306/.378 batting line through 431 plate appearances this season. Stanton would provide a thunderous jolt to any lineup he joined, but there’s very arguably no team that has a more acute need for his skill set than the Giants.

    As for the Phillies, there may not be a team in baseball that can better handle his contract from a financial standpoint. Philadelphia’s only long-term commitment at present is to Odubel Herrera, and they have a history of lofty payrolls when contending. The Cardinals have been rumored to be in the market for an impact bat to place in the middle of their lineup since June, and the Rangers have little certainty in their outfield mix beyond 2017.

    All of this, of course, is putting the cart before the horse. There’s no guarantee that the new Marlins ownership group will be in a rush to trade Stanton on the heels of the best season of his excellent young career. Doing so would come with massive public relations repercussions and could start the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter-led ownership group out on the wrong foot with a fan base that has long harbored a potent distrust of previous owner Jeffrey Loria. That’s especially true when considering the fact that the Marlins would likely have to pay Stanton’s contract down to the point where an interested partner felt it carried enough surplus value not only to acquire Stanton but also to part with well-regarded young talent.

    The Marlins’ preference under new ownership, according to Nightengale, is to keep the payroll around $100MM, and Stanton’s salary will jump to $25MM next season. He’ll be paid $26MM in both 2019 and 2020, after which he can opt out of the remaining seven years of the deal. If he forgoes the opt-out, Stanton will be paid $29MM in 2021-22, $32MM in 2023-25, $29MM in 2026 and $25MM in 2027. Stanton’s contract also includes a $25MM option for the 2018 season, which comes with a $10MM buyout.

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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Cardinals' Outfield Surplus Could Lead To Trades]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101425 2017-08-28T00:56:02Z 2017-08-27T22:54:12Z
  • The Cardinals feel they suddenly have a “traffic jam” of outfield talent, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Tommy Pham has had a terrific season in the Majors, with Harrison Bader playing well in Triple-A Memphis and Oscar Mercado having a mini-breakout (driven in part by his impressive defense) at Double-A Springfield. The team also has Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty in the big leagues, plus a number of other interesting prospects (including Tyler O’Neill, Jose Adolis Garcia, Magneuris Sierra and Randy Arozarena) in the high minors. That means various Cardinals outfielders could become trade bait this winter — not only because the team has assets to spend, but because there might simply not be enough opportunities for all of them, particularly since all of the outfielders mentioned above except Fowler and Pham are young. “We’re not going to have enough room at the inn,” says Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. “That is something we, as an organization, are going to have to take a very hard look at this offseason and decide what makes the most sense.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Place Jedd Gyorko On DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101390 2017-08-27T17:06:31Z 2017-08-27T17:06:25Z 12:06pm: Gyorko has a mild hamstring strain, tweets Langosch, who adds that the Cardinals are optimistic he’ll make it back before the season ends.

    11:21am: The Cardinals have placed third baseman Jedd Gyorko on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and recalled first baseman Luke Voit from Triple-A Memphis. Gyorko suffered the injury during the Cardinals’ 6-4 win over the Rays on Saturday, and manager Mike Matheny told reporters after the game that it “didn’t look good” (via Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com). There’s concern Gyorko could be out for the foreseeable future, per Langosch.

    [Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]

    St. Louis climbed over .500 (65-64) with its latest victory and sits 4.5 games back in the National League Central and five out of an NL wild-card spot, so Gyorko’s absence could affect the playoff race. Gyorko’s in the middle of a second straight respectable season with the Cardinals, though his .272/.341/.469 batting line in 449 plate appearances masks a subpar second half. Since the All-Star break ended, Gyorko has hit just .213/.292/.362 in 127 trips to the plate. But the 28-year-old is still capable of helping the Redbirds in other facets when he’s not producing with the bat, evidenced by his fifth-ranked defensive runs saved total (16).

    With Gyorko down and Voit back in the majors after a .253/.323/460 showing in 96 PAs earlier this year, the Cardinals could shift first baseman Matt Carpenter back to third, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes (Twitter link). Carpenter has played the majority of his career at the hot corner, but he has only appeared there once this season.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Reds, Cubs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101174 2017-08-24T23:17:55Z 2017-08-24T23:17:55Z The Cardinals see “a need” in the closer role in the wake of Trevor Rosenthal’s Tommy John surgery, but GM Mike Girsch tells MLB.com’s Jen Langosch that “there’s not a ton we can do about it” this year. While the club is still looking to see if there’s a late-inning arm to be had, he suggested, it’s just not likely that one will be found with another week to go until the end of August (after which players who are traded cannot appear on a postseason roster). But the Cards will look to bolster the pen over the winter, Girsch said, with the precise direction still to be determined — based in part upon how things go the rest of the way and what the market bears.

    • In other Cardinals-focused coverage, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at the immediate replacement options for Rosenthal. And his colleague, Derrick Goold, analyzes the organization’s possible September call-ups. GM John Mozeliak says that the organization is rich in upper-level talent that could contribute down the stretch. Goold’s examination goes into great detail on the thought process, and is well worth a read — even for fans of other teams.
    • With somewhat less fanfare, for obvious reasons, the Reds also recently lost a key pitcher for the rest of the season: righty Scott Feldman, who required knee surgery. Feldman ended up taking down $4MM in total for his 2017 season, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes — with incentives boosting his $2.3MM base salary. He’ll likely be as affordable, if not moreso, this coming winter, though Feldman did post solid results before his knee started barking. He also seemingly left a good impression, with manager Bryan Price crediting Feldman as “a tremendous competitor, though the skipper also hinted that the organization will be aiming to minimize the health risk in building out its rotation over the winter.
    • The Cubs have several relatively unheralded players that could make big contributions down the stretch, ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers writes. Swingman Mike Montgomery and infielder Tommy La Stella have already made an impact while filling in for injured regulars, Rogers notes, while the team may yet hope for a late charge from struggling relievers Hector Rondon and Justin Wilson.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Trevor Rosenthal To Undergo Tommy John Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101085 2017-08-23T21:41:01Z 2017-08-23T21:30:06Z The Cardinals announced earlier today that Trevor Rosenthal has been placed on the 60-day disabled list, and a followup announcement out of St. Louis confirms what many Cardinals fans had feared; general manager Mike Girsch confirmed to reporters that Rosenthal has suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery next week (Twitter link via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

    Rosenthal’s placement on the 60-day DL already ended his season — a critical blow to a team that is still in the mix for both a division title and an NL Wild Card spot — but the prognosis of a torn UCL may now also spell the end of his time as a member of the Cardinals organization entirely. Rosenthal will almost certainly miss all of the 2018 campaign, and even if the Cardinals hold out faint hope that he can return for the final month next year, he’ll still be non-tendered rather than given a raise on this year’s $6.4MM salary.

    The 27-year-old Rosenthal struggled through a down year in 2016 but was tendered a contract for the 2017 campaign anyhow, and he’d largely righted the ship this year. While he had a rocky stretch in mid-to-late June, Rosenthal had burst out of the gates in the season’s second half, firing 14 1/3 innings with just three earned runs allowed and a scintillating 23-to-4 K/BB ratio. Of those three earned runs he surrendered, two came in his final outing of the year (and possibly his final appearance as a Cardinal); Rosenthal allowed a leadoff homer to Xander Bogaerts and walked Mitch Moreland before being pulled from the game.

    Rosenthal’s agent, Scott Boras, will now find himself in a similar position to the one he faced with Greg Holland two years ago. Like Holland, Rosenthal is a well-regarded high-leverage reliever that will undergo Tommy John surgery late in the regular season. (Holland’s surgery was performed at the end of September in 2015.) Rosenthal and Boras could seek some kind of backloaded two-year contract this winter, which would allow the righty to rehab with a new organization before hopefully being healthy enough to take the field in 2019.

    Alternatively, Rosenthal could opt not to sign a contract at all this winter. That’s the route that Holland took following his own Tommy John procedure, as he opted not to sign in the 2015-16 winter before hosting multiple showcases/workouts for interested teams when he was back to full strength in the 2016-17 offseason.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Place Trevor Rosenthal On 60-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101068 2017-08-23T20:02:20Z 2017-08-23T19:20:36Z The Cardinals have moved righty Trevor Rosenthal from the 10-day to the 60-day DL, per a club announcement. That move brings his season to an end, though a course of treatment for his elbow injury has yet to be disclosed.

    With Rosenthal hitting the shelf for good, it seems Seung-hwan Oh is the odds-on favorite to function as the St. Louis closer the rest of the way. St. Louis has purchased the contract of southpaw Ryan Sherriff, necessitating the 40-man roster move. The club optioned righty Josh Lucas to clear active roster space.

    While his fate this year has now been resolved, Rosenthal’s future remains up in the air. It is not yet entirely clear just what elbow injury he has suffered, though indications are that ligament damage is involved. Should Rosenthal require a significant procedure, such as Tommy John surgery, he might be sidelined long enough that the Cardinals would elect not to tender him a contract for his final year of arbitration eligibility. But the team could still keep him around — with a raise over his $6.4MM salary — if Rosenthal is instead able to rehab or escape with a less significant surgical approach.

    Regardless, today’s news is quite disappointing for both the team and a player who had shown a return to form in 2017. The 27-year-old surrendered 6.5 walks and 4.46 earned runs per nine innings in a disappointing 2016 campaign that was further marred by questions about his arm health. He came into camp this year having lost his closer role, seeking instead to work as a starter.

    As it turned out, Rosenthal ended up working back into the ninth for St. Louis, ultimately saving 11 games before hitting the DL. He carried a 3.40 ERA through 47 2/3 innings, tamping down on the free passes (3.8 BB/9) while sporting career-highs in strikeout rate (14.3 K/9), swinging-strike rate (15.9%), and average fastball velocity (98.9 mph).

    No matter how things proceed from here, Rosenthal will surely be looked upon as one of the game’s most intriguing bounceback candidates given his age and demonstrated ceiling. Whether that effort will come with the Cards or another organization, though, remains to be seen.

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