- Jesus Cruz has cleared waivers and been outrighted to the Cardinals’ alternate site, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Cruz was designated for assignment last week. Cruz, 25, appeared in just one game for the Cardinals this season, yielding 2 earned runs on 3 hits and a walk. Cruz has been in the Cardinals organization since 2017, marching steadily up the organizational ladder year-by-year. In 2019, he stuck out 13.1 batter per nine innings across Double-A and Triple-A, but struggled with his comman, surrendering 6.8 BB/9. He worked a 6.02 ERA across 61 1/3 innings between the two levels.
The Cardinals have placed outfielder Dexter Fowler on the injured list, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Fowler’s dealing with a stomach illness, so the club put him on the shelf as a precautionary measure because he’s taking medicine that could lower his immune system. He’ll miss a couple weeks, writes Goold, who adds that the Cardinals replaced Fowler with infielder Rangel Ravelo on their roster.
Fowler, who’s in his fourth season as a Cardinal, has been a a valuable part of their offense so far in 2020. The switch-hitting 34-year-old has taken 75 trips to the plate and slashed .279/.347/.485 with four home runs, all while getting the lion’s share of work in right field for a St. Louis team that’s 14-13 and in possession of the second wild-card spot in the National League.
Fowler aside, Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader are the only Cardinals outfielders who have appeared in double-digit games in the grass thus far. Fowler has been the most effective hitter of any of their outfielders, though, and fellow right field option Dylan Carlson has posted brutal production across the first 73 plate appearances of his career.
The 25-year-old Cruz had a short run on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, as the club selected him Aug. 18. He made one appearance as a Cardinal and yielded a pair of earned runs over a single inning of work. Cruz spent last season between Single-A and Double-A, where he combined for a 6.02 ERA and recorded 13.1 K/9 against 6.8 BB/9 over 61 1/3 frames.
Helsley threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in late July, but he then became one of the many Cardinals who tested positive for the coronavirus, which put a temporary halt to their season. Now that he’s back, though, the 26-year-old could be a rather useful piece for St. Louis’ bullpen down the stretch. Helsley debuted in the majors last year and has since ridden a 97 mph fastball to a stingy 2.75 ERA (with a much less impressive 4.05 FIP), 7.78 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings.
With the deadline in the rearview mirror, we’ll look back at each NL Central team’s trade activity over the past month.
- Acquired 1B/DH José Martínez from Rays for two players to be named later or cash considerations
- Acquired LHP Andrew Chafin from Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
- Acquired LHP Josh Osich from Red Sox for a player to be named later
- Acquired OF Cameron Maybin from Tigers for INF Zack Short
- Acquired a player to be named later from Astros for LHP Brooks Raley
- Acquired OF Mark Payton from Athletics for cash considerations
- Acquired RHP Riley O’Brien from Rays for LHP Cody Reed
- Acquired OF Brian Goodwin from Angels for LHP Packy Naughton and a player to be named later or cash considerations
- Acquired RHP Archie Bradley from Diamondbacks for INF Josh VanMeter and OF Stuart Fairchild
- Acquired three players to be named later (reportedly RHP Brandon Ramey, RHP Israel Puello and RHP Juan Geraldo) from Phillies for RHP David Phelps
- Acquired RHP Tyler Bashlor from Mets for cash considerations
- Acquired LHP Austin Davis from Phillies for a player to be named later and cash considerations
- Acquired international bonus pool space from White Sox for OF Jarrod Dyson
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have made four call-ups from their alternate training site, as left-hander Rob Kaminsky, first baseman John Nogowski, and right-handers Ryan Meisinger and Seth Elledge are all joining the active roster. They will take the roster spots left open by infielder Max Schrock and righties Daniel Ponce de Leon and Junior Fernandez, who are all headed to the alternate site. In addition, left-hander Ricardo Sanchez has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to pain in his throwing elbow.
Ponce de Leon, Fernandez, Sanchez, and even Schrock (in mop-up duty) pitched in last night’s 14-2 loss to the Indians. Ponce de Leon started and lasted only two-thirds of an inning, allowing four runs on four walks and two hits.
This demotion won’t last long, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Ponce De Leon will be back as the 29th man for next weekend’s doubleheader against the Cubs. As for Ponce De Leon’s normal starting spot, however, Johan Oviedo will now take a regular turn in the rotation. Oviedo has made two starts already for the Cards this season, looking solid in posting a 3.60 ERA over 10 innings.
Sanchez’s ominous-sounding injury continues what has already been a difficult year for the 23-year-old, as he missed two weeks in July recovering from a COVID-19 diagnosis. The southpaw did make his big league debut this season, posting a 6.75 ERA over 5 1/3 IP (three games).
While the Cardinals are still going to explore trade deadline opportunities, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told The Athletic’s Mark Saxon and other reporters that his club faces something of a unique roster crunch due to the coronavirus outbreak that ravaged the Cards earlier this month. “I think that’s the biggest issue at hand for us, sort of navigating the health of the club vs. what potentially we could do in a trade,” Mozeliak said. “Candidly, the timing of it [the deadline] is not ideal for us, as we start to unwind people coming off of COVID back onto the roster….What it is to say is we haven’t been a team together, with the exception of the first five days together.”
With a whopping seven players still to be activated from the COVID-19 injured list, 40-man roster considerations will start to become a mounting concern for the Cardinals in the coming days, and certainly not everyone will be back before Monday’s trade deadline. One potential wrinkle, Mozeliak said, is that “other teams might be dealing with roster crunches, too, as they navigate Aug. 31,” and thus these rivals might not be as eager to make claims on any players the Cards might be forced to expose to waivers.
The Cardinals placed lefty Andrew Miller on the 10-day injured list due to shoulder fatigue, the team announced. Right-hander Junior Fernandez was activated from the injured list in a corresponding move.
Miller’s IL visit is apparently “just a recovery thing,” manager Mike Shildt told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other reporters. Like many other Cardinals players, Miller is still getting back up to full speed following the team’s coronavirus outbreak-driven stoppage in play. To that end, Fernandez himself is returning after a positive COVID-19 sidelined him for much of the season, as the rookie has only appeared in one game this season. Rogers also notes that infielder Edmundo Sosa was assigned to the Cardinals’ alternate training site after being activated today from the team’s coronavirus injured list.
Shildt feels Miller will be back after the 10-day minimum stay, saying that “he’s been a warrior and just was honest and said, ’I could probably keep going and pushing through it,’ but I think we’d all feel better if we could get it behind him.”
Miller has a 4.76 ERA through 5 2/3 innings this season, with the bulk of that damage coming in one tough outing (two earned runs over one-third of an inning) against the Cubs on August 19. The left-hander has held opponents scoreless in five of his other six appearances this season.
Even a minimal visit to the injured list will create a bit of extra drama in regards to Miller’s contractual status. His original two-year, $25MM deal carries a $12MM club option for 2021 that was originally set to become guaranteed with at least 110 games pitched over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Rogers writes that Miller is seven games short of triggering his vesting option, meaning that the 37 appearances he still required (after pitching in 73 games in 2019) was prorated down to 14 appearances, as per the normal prorated rate of a 60-game schedule. Assuming Miller is back in 10 days or not much beyond, however, he should still have time left to bank his remaining seven games, though his usage down the stretch could be worth observing in the season’s final weeks.
The Cardinals have activated shortstop Paul DeJong from the injured list,as first reported by Anne Rogers of MLB.com (Twitter link). DeJong was one of seven players in the organization who tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks back, but he’s fortunately returned to health and playing shape in short order. Right-hander Seth Elledge was optioned out to clear active roster space.
Ultimately, the Cards’ shortstop missed just eleven of the team’s games, although that’s largely a reflection of the club’s sixteen-day absence that stemmed from the outbreak. The sturdy DeJong has coupled league average offense with strong defensive metrics in recent years, settling in as an above-average everyday option. Tommy Edman picked up the bulk of shortstop work in DeJong’s absence, but he’s now free to return to a utility role.
More broadly, the Cardinals’ shutdown has placed the front office in something of an awkward position with the trade deadline just eight days away. As president of baseball operations John Mozeliak explained to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the club has an even smaller sample than most teams on which to self-assess.
From the outside, that seems it could be particularly tricky for St. Louis, which has solid players across the roster but few star-level performers beyond first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and ace Jack Flaherty. Barring a collapse in the next week, it’d be a surprise if St. Louis weren’t approaching deadline season with a buyer’s mentality. It’ll be fascinating to see how Mozeliak and the rest of the front office approach a deadline with far less information than any other.
- Before the second game of their doubleheader against the Cubs on Wednesday, the Cardinals selected right-hander Johan Oviedo from their alternate site and optioned Jesus Cruz. The 22-year-old Oviedo started the game and impressed in his major league debut, throwing five innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball with two hits and two walks allowed. Oviedo is in his fourth year in the St. Louis organization, and though he had a difficult time in his first season in Triple A last year (5.65 ERA, 5.1 BB/9 over 113 innings), he is regarded as a rather promising prospect. All of FanGraphs (No. 12), Baseball America (13) and MLB.com (13) place Oviedo among the Cardinals’ top 15 farmhands. FanGraphs wrote in the offseason that the 6-foot-6 Oviedo has mid-rotation potential, but it’ll depend on whether can improve his control. Not bad so far.