St. Louis Cardinals – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-10-23T04:01:14Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitchers Recently Electing Free Agency]]> 2019-10-22T15:43:42Z 2019-10-22T14:56:58Z Since the conclusion of the regular season, a number of players have elected free agency. That right accrues to certain players who are outrighted off of a 40-man roster during or after the season — namely, those that have at least three years of MLB service and/or have previously been outrighted. Such players that accepted outright assignments during the season have the right to elect free agency instead at season’s end, provided they aren’t added back to the 40-man in the meantime.

We already rounded up the position players. Now, here are the pitchers that have recently taken to the open market, along with their now-former teams (via the International League and PCL transactions pages):

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Carlos Martinez Undergoes “Small Procedure” On Shoulder]]> 2019-10-21T03:51:52Z 2019-10-21T03:51:52Z Carlos Martinez recently underwent a “small procedure” on his bothersome right shoulder, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said during a radio interview on KMOX 1120 AM Sunday (hat tip to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).  The treatment involved a platelet-rich plasma injection.  Martinez isn’t expected to miss any significant time, as Mozeliak said the right-hander “should have a pretty normal offseason” and is expected to ready for the start of the Cards’ Spring Training camp in February.

Shoulder issues have plagued Martinez in each of the last two seasons, which is why St. Louis shifted him into the bullpen in 2018 and used him exclusively as a reliever in 2019.  After making his season debut in May, Martinez posted a 3.17 ERA, 9.9 K/9, and 2.94 K/BB rate over 48 1/3 innings, and also ended up accumulating 24 saves as the Cards’ closer once Jordan Hicks had to undergo Tommy John surgery in June.

Despite this success, Martinez has long stated his preference to work as a starting pitcher, the Cardinals left the door open to a return to the rotation in 2020.  Last week’s shoulder procedure was intended to correct the soreness that arose whenever Martinez began to pitch deeper into games, though after over a year away from the rotation, it remains to be seen if Martinez will be able to return to his old form as a starter.  “In terms of what we want to see happen with Carlos this upcoming year, I think there are going to be many factors that way into that, and him being one of them,” Mozeliak said.  “What he decides he thinks is best for him when you look at his career path and where he is physically.”

It wasn’t long ago that Martinez was seen as one of baseball’s top young arms, as he posted a 3.24 ERA, 2.82 K/BB rate, and 8.9 K/9 from 2015-17, averaging 193 innings per season.  This led to a contract extension in the 2016-17 offseason that guaranteed Martinez $51.5MM over a five-year stretch, and Martinez is still owed $23.5MM on that deal.  He’ll earn $11.5MM in 2020 and 2021, before the Cardinals can either exercise a $17MM club option for 2022 or buy it out for $500K, and there’s also an $18MM club option ($500K buyout) on Martinez’s services for 2023.

Those salaries become a veritable bargain if Martinez is able to return to the starting five and pitch as he did in 2015-17, and even if he remains as a reliever, $11.5MM per season isn’t an untoward amount for a bullpen arm who pitches as well as Martinez did in 2019.

Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Dakota Hudson have three spaces in the Cardinals’ rotation spoken for next season, though getting Martinez back would go a long way towards helping the team fill the final two spots.  Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Genesis Cabrera, and Alex Reyes are all on the short list to compete for starting jobs, though one rotation space could be taken if veteran stalwart Adam Wainwright were to re-sign for another year in St. Louis.  If Martinez does return to starting, however, it leaves a vacancy for the Cards to address at closer, since Hicks is slated to miss most or potentially all of the 2020 season.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals]]> 2019-10-19T06:14:11Z 2019-10-19T06:13:31Z Pending free-agent left fielder Marcell Ozuna has made it known he’d prefer to re-sign with the Cardinals, but it doesn’t look likely with free agency approaching. The Cardinals won’t be making an effort to re-up Ozuna to a long-term contract before the market opens in a couple weeks, Mark Saxon of The Athletic writes (subscription link). They are, however, likely to issue Ozuna a $17.8MM qualifying offer, according to Saxon.

[RELATED – FA Outlook: Marcell Ozuna]

If the Cardinals do hit Ozuna with a QO and he accepts, they’ll keep him for 2020. Otherwise, rejecting would enable Ozuna to head to free agency as arguably the most appealing corner outfielder available in a class that will also include Nicholas Castellanos and Yasiel Puig, among others. In a best-case scenario for Ozuna, St. Louis will pass on doling out the QO, as saddling him with one would force another team to give up draft-pick compensation in signing him. As we’ve seen in recent offseasons, clubs generally aren’t enthusiastic about losing draft capital while simultaneously having to fork over a sizable contract.

In the event Ozuna does get to free agency with a QO attached, he’ll still have a case for one of the offseason’s top paydays. Set to turn 29 next month, Ozuna’s coming off his fifth season with at least 2.6 fWAR since he debuted with the Marlins in 2013. Ozuna continued a trend of above-average (but not spectacular) offensive production in 2019, as he slashed .243/.330/.474 with 29 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances. If we’re to believe Statcast, there may be more in the tank – Ozuna’s expected weighted on-base average (.379) far outpaced his real wOBA (.340) and ranked in the majors’ 91st percentile. He was also near the apex of the league in average exit velocity (91.8 mph; 93rd percentile) and hard-hit percentage (49.2; 96th percentile), among other Statcast metrics.

While Ozuna hasn’t been able to replicate the star-caliber 2017 he enjoyed with the Marlins during his two years as a Cardinal, his output would still be a challenge for the Redbirds to replace. St. Louis does have several other outfielders in the mix, though, and it’s not a guarantee the club will aggressively pursue outside help in the wake of an Ozuna exit. With Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Tommy Edman, Jose Martinez, Lane Thomas, Yairo Munoz, Randy Arozarena and high-end prospect Dylan Carlson among options under control for next season, the Cardinals “have no intention of adding to the outfield glut” this winter, Saxon writes.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates To Interview Stubby Clapp]]> 2019-10-19T02:36:17Z 2019-10-19T02:36:17Z The Pirates will interview Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clap for their open managerial job next week, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. He’ll be the third reported interview for the Pirates, who have already discussed the position with Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson and Twins bench coach Derek Shelton.

[RELATED: MLBTR’s Managerial Search Tracker]

Like Christenson and Shelton, the 46-year-old Clapp has no experience as a skipper at the sport’s highest level. Clapp, however, was eminently successful as the manager of the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis from 2017-18. He led the team to back-to-back Pacific Coast League titles in the role, earning PCL Manager of the Year honors as a rookie skipper. Understandably impressed, the Cardinals promoted Clapp to their big league staff last offseason, when the Rangers considered hiring him as their manager before turning to Chris Woodward.

The Cardinals are once again at risk of losing Clapp, a member of the organization for a large portion of his time in professional baseball. The Canada native was a 36th-round pick of the Cardinals in 1996 who served as an infielder/outfielder with the organization through 2002. Clapp’s only experience as a major leaguer came over 26 plate appearances with the Cards in 2001.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Adam Wainwright’s Future]]> 2019-10-17T21:25:02Z 2019-10-17T21:25:02Z In the wake of the Cardinals being swept out of the National League Championship Series, it isn’t surprising that Adam Wainwright was more focused on the end of his club’s season than he was on his future plans.  The 38-year-old righty told’s Adam Berry and other reporters after Game Four of the NLCS that “I haven’t even thought about” what he might do for the 2020 season, though “we’ll talk about it over the next couple weeks.”

If the veteran does decide to hang up his glove after 14 seasons, Wainwright will have gone out on a very high note.  He posted a 4.19 ERA, 8.02 K/9, 48.8% grounder rate, and 2.39 K/BB rate over 171 2/3 frames for St. Louis this season, and then delivered a 1.62 ERA over 16 2/3 innings during the Cards’ playoff run.

While not at the level of Wainwright’s ace-like prime in 2009-14 (a stretch that saw him earn four top-three finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting), it was still the right-hander’s best season of the last half-decade.  Wainwright has been hampered by injuries in recent years, so it’s no wonder that his performance began to improve once his nagging elbow problems finally began to subside.  Aside from a 10-day minimum stint on the injured list due to a balky hamstring in June, 2019 was a very healthy campaign for Wainwright, as he passed the 170-inning plateau for the eighth time in his career.

Signed to a one-year deal for just $2MM in guaranteed money, Wainwright ended up earning $10MM by maxing out his incentives.  Wainwright re-signed with St. Louis last offseason before October was even over, so another quick deal isn’t out of the question if Wainwright and the Cardinals have a mutual interest in continuing their partnership with as little drama as possible, though it’s fair to wonder whether other teams might also be keen on talking to Wainwright on the open market.

Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Dakota Hudson project as the Cards’ top three starters for 2020, and with Michael Wacha unlikely to return, there would certainly seem to be room for Wainwright to once again suit up as the veteran leader of the St. Louis rotation.  Wainwright’s presence would help stabilize an otherwise uncertain back of the rotation, as the Cardinals would then have their younger options (Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber, Genesis Cabrera or possibly Alex Reyes if healthy) battling over one rotation job, rather than two.  Of course, the Cardinals could also augment this mix with another veteran arm via free agency or trade, even if Wainwright does return.

Dylan A. Chase <![CDATA[Examining Ozuna's Impending Status In St. Louis]]> 2019-10-16T12:33:48Z 2019-10-15T15:19:06Z
  • Speaking of that 8-1 ballgame from Monday evening: Mark Saxon of The Athletic feels like it might have seen outfielder Marcell Ozuna finally write himself out of the Cardinals plans moving forward (link). Saxon zooms in on a third-inning fielding gaffe committed by Ozuna last night that ultimately opened the gates on a four-run Nats frame, with the writer labeling the outfielder as “the fulcrum of another embarrassing night in this series of embarrassments for the Cardinals”. The play in question saw Ozuna in go into a pop-up slide in left field in an attempt to catch a flare off the bat of Anthony Rendon, with the ball ultimately popping out of the outfielder’s glove when his butt hit the ground. Though Saxon cites some Statcast data indicating that the ball should have been caught, manager Mike Schildt struck a supportive tone: “It’s not an easy play any time you have to leave your feet and go a distance and slide,” Shildt said. “It’s a play that he’s clearly capable of making, but it’s not a play you absolutely expect somebody to make.” It may be the result of a Game 3 hangover, but Saxon isn’t similarly convinced–in the writer’s mind, it isn’t likely Ozuna will be back with the Cards in 2020. Saxon cites Ozuna’s fundamental lapses, the club’s $138.7MM commitment to just nine players next season, and the looming presence of outfielder Dylan Carlson as factors in what he expects to be Ozuna’s impending free agent departure.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Announce NLCS Roster]]> 2019-10-11T22:03:14Z 2019-10-11T22:03:14Z When last the Nats and Cards squared off in the postseason, way back in 2012, Stephen Strasburg was out of commission. But Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki were with the Nationals. The Cardinals will counter with a roster that includes just a few key holdovers: grizzled backstop Yadier Molina, resurgent veteran starter Adam Wainwright, and long-time infielder Matt Carpenter.

    For those that watched the club’s NLDS effort closely, this roster will be a familiar one …

    Right-handed pitchers

    Left-handed pitchers




    As we noted when the St. Louis org rolled out this same roster for the divisional matchup with the Braves, two of the most prominent names not included are right-handed hurlers Michael Wacha and John Gant. The latter fell out of favor amid second-half struggles, and it’s not surprising to see the Cards sticking with their assessment. But the former might have garnered renewed consideration in a longer series since he’s capable of throwing multiple innings. Just about any pitcher can be pushed beyond typical usage this time of year, but if the club needs a true long man, it may turn to Ponce de Leon, who spent much of the year as a starter.

    The Cardinals elected not to make any changes to the position-player mix. Arozarena has scant MLB experience and struck out in two of just three plate appearances in the divisional series. But he’ll be retained as a glove-and-run bench piece instead of the more experienced Tyler O’Neill, who might’ve brought more pop in a reserve role.

    That aforementioned 2012 NLDS matchup provided lasting memories for Cards fans and nightmares for the Nationals’ faithful. This time around, the St. Louis organization has a clear advantage in its relief corps, though the pen isn’t exactly a dominant unit and the Nats can hope to get many innings from their vaunted rotation. The Nationals hold an advantage in superstar bats, though the Cards arguably possess better position-player depth and a strong rotation of their own. It should be another highly competitive series.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Who’s Going To The NLCS?]]> 2019-10-09T06:09:58Z 2019-10-09T06:09:58Z If you like baseball (you’re reading this, so you probably do), Wednesday evening already looks rather promising. All four of the National League’s remaining playoff teams will square off then in win-or-go-home contests to conclude their thrilling NLDS matchups. The top-seeded Dodgers will take on the Nationals in Los Angeles, while the Braves will host the Cardinals.

    To many, a third straight pennant for the perennially dominant Dodgers looked like a foregone conclusion entering the playoffs. But the 106-win club has had its hands full with the Nationals, a 93-69 team that needed a miraculous comeback over the Brewers in the wild-card game just to reach the NLDS. The Dodgers have led this series twice (1-0 and 2-1), but they’ve been unable to stamp out the Nationals, thanks in part to the heroics of Washington co-aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The latter’s slated to take the ball in Game 5 against Walker Buehler, who has supplanted Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw as LA’s most valuable starter. Buehler put forth his latest ace-caliber effort in the Dodgers’ Game 1 win last Thursday, when he fired six scoreless, one-hit innings.

    In Atlanta, the Braves will send Mike Foltynewicz to the mound to battle Jack Flaherty, who – like Buehler – has burst on the scene as an elite young arm. Foltynewicz entered the season as one of the Braves’ clear-cut top starters, though it nonetheless may seem hard to believe they’re turning to him with their season on the line. After all, the team did demote the 28-year-old to the minors in late June on the heels of a horrid few months. To his credit, however, Foltynewicz has rebounded since his early August return, and he continued to roll with seven shutout innings during a Game 2 victory over the Flaherty-led Cards. He’ll again contend with a St. Louis offense that has gotten exceptional production from Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna in the series.

    The 23-year-old Flaherty will deal with an Atlanta club that has seen outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. continue to stake his claim as one of the sport’s up-and-coming superstars in October. Runs may be hard to come by for Acuna & Co., though, as Flaherty hasn’t yielded more than three in a start since July 2. Dating back to then, Flaherty has given up a ridiculously low 14 earned runs in 113 1/3 innings and 17 starts.

    Of course, it would be foolish to only mention the starters who are lined up for these two games. With all four clubs’ seasons on the line, they’ll likely be in all-hands-on-deck mode (or something close to it) as they attempt to reach the final round of the NL playoffs. As is often the case in the postseason, the teams’ bullpens will probably play integral roles in the outcomes. Which clubs do you expect to advance Wednesday?

    (Poll link for app users)

    (Poll link for app users)

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dallas Keuchel On Cardinals' Interest In Free Agency]]> 2019-10-09T04:03:28Z 2019-10-09T04:03:28Z Dallas Keuchel and the Braves are squaring off against the Cardinals in a memorable NLDS, but the left-hander recently told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he’s surprised the Redbirds didn’t make a bigger effort to sign him when he was a free agent from November to June. “Honestly, I was fully expecting an offer from them,” said Keuchel. “Just never really came about.” Keuchel, whom the Braves signed to a one-year, $13MM deal after a protracted standoff between him and the entire league, added that he viewed St. Louis as “a good destination,” which could be notable with the soon-to-be 32-year-old set to hit free agency again in the coming weeks. Meantime, his club will try to eliminate the Cardinals in a do-or-die Game 5 on Wednesday.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Wacha To Throw 'Pen Session Wednesday]]> 2019-10-08T22:32:07Z 2019-10-08T22:32:07Z
  • Cardinals righty Michael Wacha will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A mild shoulder strain kept Wacha off the Cardinals’ NLDS roster, but if he comes out of this ’pen session well and the Cards manage to topple the Braves in tomorrow’s decisive Game 5, Wacha could reemerge as an option for the pitching staff in the next round. Of course, Wacha didn’t exactly cement himself as a crucial part of a postseason roster while struggling through one of his worst big league seasons. In 126 2/3 innings, he posted a 4.76 ERA with career-worst marks in K/9 (7.4), BB/9 (3.9) and HR/9 (1.85). He’ll be a free agent this winter, so if he doesn’t return for a potential NLCS berth, Wacha may have already tossed his last pitch as a Cardinal.
  • ]]>
    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Adam Wainwright Doesn't Feel Tonight Was His Final Start]]> 2019-10-07T00:46:08Z 2019-10-07T00:46:08Z
  • Adam Wainwright, 38, gave a brilliant performance this evening in the Cardinals’ Game 3 loss to the Braves, tossing 7.2 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. It was a vintage performance for the former ace, who gave the Cardinals 171.2 innings of league average pitching (4.19 ERA, 20.5% K%, 8.6% BB%) in the regular season. Clearly, Wainwright can still perform at a high level, but given his age and the upcoming expiration of his one-year contract, there are questions about his future. Wainwright, though, doesn’t sound like a man on the verge of hanging up the spikes, telling Joe Trezza of postgame he “never felt for one second that today was going to be (his) last day.” That’s not a definitive statement that he’d be returning to the big leagues, or to St. Louis specifically, but it stands to reason both sides could have interest in a similar incentive-laden arrangement (which Waino went on to maximize for $10MM) as they hammered out last October.
  • ]]>
    George Miller <![CDATA[Free Agent Outlook: Marcell Ozuna]]> 2019-10-06T22:42:57Z 2019-10-06T22:03:30Z With little in the way of hot stove news during the rising action of the MLB postseason, let’s take a look ahead to this winter’s free agency. In particular, we’ll be evaluating the market for a player who could prove to be one of the offseason’s more intriguing cases: Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

    After he was traded from the Marlins to St. Louis as part of the post-2017 fire sale in Miami, Ozuna has endured a pair of unspectacular seasons as a Cardinal. That’s not to say he’s been bad, but expectations were high after he slugged 37 home runs in his last season with the Marlins. His struggles in 2018, when he totaled only 23 round-trippers, can be at least partly be attributed to a nagging shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the year and ultimately required surgery. This year, with a healthy shoulder, he has enjoyed a nice uptick in his power numbers, though that has still only translated to a slightly above-average .804 OPS.

    When the Cardinals postseason comes to a close, Ozuna will have a chance to hit the open market for the first time, reaching free agency as a 28-year-old outfielder. (He’ll play the 2020 campaign at age 29). That places him among the younger options from which teams will choose, making him arguably the most attractive of this offseason’s outfield class, which is a relatively thin one.

    Ozuna, for his part, has expressed a desire to remain in St. Louis beyond this year, calling it a “priority” to ink a contract that will keep him with the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals may not share his enthusiasm for a reunion. John Mozeliak expressed hesitance to discuss an extension with Ozuna, instead opting to postpone that matter until the offseason. Other, cheaper options within the organization could replace Ozuna in the corner outfield, with Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson seemingly ready to contribute.

    It seems like a good bet that the Cardinals will tender a qualifying offer to Ozuna, which figures to come in at around $18MM this offseason. That designation would force a signing team to forfeit a draft pick in order to acquire Ozuna’s services.

    Many teams might not be convinced that Ozuna is capable of returning to the power numbers that he displayed on his way out of Miami. Still, there are promising signs: Ozuna ranks among baseball’s best in terms of exit velocity and hard-hit rate, both of which are at career-best marks. His expected statistics—which calculate the expected outcomes of batted balls based on exit velocity and launch angle—paint him as one of the premier offensive performers in baseball.

    Another point of concern will be Ozuna’s defensive shortcomings. Although there’s a Gold Glove Award on his mantle, Ozuna has provided little value as an outfielder since departing Miami. He grades as below-average in Statcast’s outs above average and outfielder jump metrics—ranking in the 13th and 29th percentile, respectively. On the positive side, he is credited with 2 DRS, thanks in large part to a strong throwing arm. That’s not a bad mark at all, but teams may be hesitant to project that performance into his thirties as he seeks a multi-year deal.

    Could Ozuna be a candidate to accept the qualifying offer? Sure, there’s a solid chance that he could eclipse the total value with a multi-year contract on the open market (though almost certainly at a lower AAV), but accepting the one-year deal could grant Ozuna’s wish to stay in St. Louis and attempt to rebuild his value, perhaps with an eye on a contract extension with the Cardinals or another chance at free agency following the 2020 season.

    As we all well know, the free-agent landscape has been notoriously cruel over the last two years, and Ozuna feels like a player who could be strongly affected by the evolving market. As a bat-first left fielder nearing his thirties, teams might be reluctant to invest heavily in a profile that depends mostly on offensive production—which, generally speaking, has been underwhelming since Ozuna joined the Cardinals. If Ozuna and his reps get an inkling that his free-agent market may not be as expansive as they hoped, that could give another reason to regroup and return to the Cardinals under the qualifying offer.

    However, the allure of a multi-year contract with a total guarantee exceeding that of the QO may be too much to resist for Ozuna, a first-time free agent in his prime years. Even if his most likely outcome is a two- or three-year deal with an AAV of about $13-16MM, Ozuna may not have another chance to test the open market as arguably the best player at his position. That alone might incline a team to overpay for him. Regardless, as we head towards another offseason of intrigue, Ozuna may be a name to follow in a free-agent class that lacks star-power position players.

    Dylan A. Chase <![CDATA[Cardinals Tab Wainwright For NLDS Game 3]]> 2019-10-06T01:37:10Z 2019-10-06T01:22:21Z As Rogers notes, Wainwright will be making his 24th appearance in a postseason game (13 starts), after first appearing in the national October spotlight in 2006 as a relief ace for then-manager Tony La Russa’s World Series-winning Cards team. That year saw a 24-year-old Wainwright begin his playoff career with 9.2 scoreless innings, and he has only followed up that initial success by compiling a nifty 3.03 ERA across 89.0 career postseason innings. This year marked the now-38-year-old’s first season over the 30-start mark since 2016, and this October should provide him yet another opportunity to assure the Cardinals–and rival clubs–that he deserves a healthy free agent guarantee this winter.

    Sunday will mark the first postseason game played in St. Louis in three years, but Cardinals manager Mike Schildt will be trusting the game’s start to a relatively practiced postseason hand. Redbirds legend Adam Wainwright–a free-agent-to-be this offseason–will be taking the ball for Schildt, who is counting on the pitcher’s experience with what promises to be a raucous Busch Stadium atmosphere.

    As Rogers notes, Wainwright will be making his 24th appearance in a postseason game (13 starts), after first appearing in the national October spotlight in 2006 as a relief ace for then-manager Tony La Russa’s World Series-winning Cards team. That year saw a 24-year-old Wainwright begin his playoff career with 9.2 scoreless innings, and he has only followed up that initial success by compiling a nifty 3.03 ERA across 89.0 career postseason innings. This year marked the now-38-year-old’s first season over the 30-start mark since 2016, and this October should provide him yet another opportunity to assure the Cardinals–and rival clubs–that he deserves a healthy free agent guarantee this winter.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Announce NLDS Roster]]> 2019-10-03T15:38:02Z 2019-10-03T15:38:02Z The Cardinals have announced their roster for their National League Division Series showdown against the Braves, which kicks off in about six hours when Game 1 starter Miles Mikolas squares off against lefty Dallas Keuchel in Atlanta. Here’s their full roster:

    Right-handed pitchers

    Left-handed pitchers




    Notable absences from the roster include right-handers Michael Wacha and John Gant. Wacha has long been a fixture on the Cardinals’ pitching staff but suffered a mild shoulder strain in his final outing of the season — a performance that could prove to be his final game as a Cardinal. The 28-year-old will become a free agent at season’s end, and his up-and-down season ultimately came to a close with middling end results: a 4.76 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 126 2/3 innings. Wacha was twice demoted to the bullpen but returned to a starting role in each instance. The Cardinals could, of course, explore a reunion this winter, but they have a solid trio in Flaherty, Hudson and Mikolas — to say nothing of Carlos Martinez and perennial wild card Alex Reyes. They’ll also surely consider another deal with Wainwright, if the venerable rotation workhorse wishes to continue playing. Even if the Cards do seek a starter this winter, they may prefer more stability than Wacha can offer.

    As for Gant, he opened the season as perhaps the Cardinals’ most reliable reliever, but his 2019 campaign took a sharp turn for the worst in late June. The 27-year-old, acquired in the 2016 swap that sent Jaime Garcia to the very organization the Cardinals will face in this series, carried a sub-2.00 ERA past the midpoint of June. He was torched for four runs in a third of an inning on June 23, however, and seemingly never regained his form. Gant allowed runs in 14 of his final 30 appearances this season, pitching to a 7.11 ERA the rest of the way. He pitched a total of 41 innings through the Cardinals’ first 74 games but logged just 25 1/3 frames from that point forth despite never landing on the IL or being optioned to the minors.

    It’s also of note that the 24-year-old Arozarena has cracked the postseason roster. A fairly high-profile signing out of Cuba a few years back, Arozarena split the majority of the season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he posted huge numbers at both levels. He appeared in only 19 games in the Majors as a September call-up, though, and totaled a mere 23 plate appearances  in that time. The Cards could’ve opted to bring Tyler O’Neill along to provide some pop off the bench, but they’ll instead opt for Arozarena’s superior speed and defensive versatility, as he’s capable of playing all three outfield spots.

    As for the rest of the Cardinals’ rotation beyond Mikolas in Game 1 and Flaherty in Game 2, it’s a bit up in the air. Manager Mike Shildt indicated that Hudson is tentatively in line to start Game 3 but will also be available in relief in Games 1 and 2. If he does come out of the bullpen, Wainwright would get the nod in Game 3 with Hudson potentially starting the fourth game depending on when and how he is used (link via Anne Rogers of

    Dylan A. Chase <![CDATA[Cardinals Beat Writer Derrick Goold Administers Life-Saving CPR]]> 2019-10-03T15:08:44Z 2019-09-30T05:52:12Z For those who believe that baseball heroes only reside between the lines of play, this writer might humbly direct your attention to a particular member of the St. Louis press box. Derrick Goold, a longtime writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who covers the Cardinals, was the subject of a piece from colleague Rick Hummel today after Goold came to the rescue of a 64-year-old man at Busch Stadium on Sunday. Mike Flanary, a St. Louis-based videographer, collapsed in the Cubs dugout and was briefly without a pulse before Goold rushed to his aid and administered life-saving CPR. Flanary was brought to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for the effects of a heart attack and stroke; he remained in critical-but-stable condition on Sunday evening.