News: Cardinals add four to 40 Man Roster

What happened. The St. Louis Cardinals added LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Derian Gonzalez, OF Oscar Mercado, and OF Tyler O’Neill to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The 40 man roster now stands at 39 players.

The story. Today was the deadline for the Cardinals to add players to their 40 man roster to protect them from December’s Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft will take place on the final day of December’s Winter Meetings in Orlando. Minor league players who were 19 or older when they signed and played four years and 18 or younger and played five years are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not on the 40 man roster.

The numbers. Austin Gomber, 23, was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Florida Atlantic University. He posted a 3.34 ERA over 26 starts for Double-A Springfield, initially struggling with the promotion to Springfield. From mid-June on, he posted a 2.34 ERA over his final 15 starts. He is ranked as the Cardinals’ #8 prospect by MLB.com.

Derian Gonzalez, 22, was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela. He posted a 4.33 ERA in 15 starts and 3 relief appearances for High A Palm Beach. He missed time with a shoulder injury this summer and after a stint in Rookie ball, returned to Palm Beach as a reliever striking out 8 of the 12 batters he faced.

Oscar Mercado, 22, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of high school. Last season Mercado debuted as an outfielder and was a full time outfielder this season for the first time. He also had a bit of a breakout season with the bat as well, hitting .287/.341/.428 with 13 home runs over 120 games with Double-A Springfield. He is ranked as the Cardinals’ #18 prospect by MLB.com.

Tyler O’Neill, 22, was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of high school by the Seattle Mariners. A consensus top-100 prospect before the 2017 season, O’Neill was acquired in July for Marco Gonzales. Between his two minor league stops, O’Neill hit .246/.321/.499 with 31 home runs in 130 games at the Triple-A level. He is ranked as the Cardinals’ #4 prospect by MLB.com.

The impact. 6/10. O’Neill was an obvious addition for the Cardinals as he might be the only bat in the system with the potential to be a middle of the order hitter. Gomber on the verge of knocking on the door to the Majors and might be in play as a fifth starter option for the club in Spring Training if the cards fall his way.

The additions of Gonzalez and Mercado represent a couple players who have had a good season, but are still developing and need to back up those performances to prove their worth.

The club was expected to have made a trade before today to help thin out the 40 man roster to give them more space for options, however, that did not end up being the case. Given that they didn’t make another trade to clear some space, they must be comfortable with those they are leaving unprotected this season. The last two years, the Cardinals have lost RHP Luis Perdomo and IF Allen Cordoba in the Major League portion.

A noted absence was Patrick Wisdom who hit .243/.310/.507 with 31 home runs over 127 games for Memphis this season. Wisdom was left unprotected last season as well and went unclaimed. That may not be the case this year.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 4

This is it. The final day of the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida. General Managers will return home and attempt to build on the face-to-face discussions they had this week as they negotiate via carrier pigeon and pony express until they all return in December for the Winter Meetings that still happen technically in the fall.

Not much happened today, but for everything that happened at the GM Meetings relating to the Cardinals, you can check out Day 3, Day 2, and Day 1‘s notebooks.

And don’t forget to go vote in the Cardinal Blogger Awards.

Giants have been the most aggressive on Stanton?

Bob Nightengale is reporting this morning that the Miami Marlins are not close to trading Giancarlo Stanton, but that the San Francisco Giants have been the most aggressive in trade discussions.

This doesn’t surprise me too much. The Giants desperately need both outfield help and offensive help and Stanton would help most. The problem for the Giants comes in as they are generally considered to have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, hence their need to be more aggressive. The system has no consensus top-100 prospects. Their top-3 prospects according to MLB.com (3B Christian Arroyo, 1B Chris Shaw, and RHP Tyler Beede) have all appeared on various top-100 charts this season, but never on multiple.

But the Giants’ offer sounds like it may be built around outfielder Heliot Ramos who is their #4 prospect according to MLB.com and first round draft pick in 2017. Ramos hit .348/.404/.645 with 6 home runs in 35 games in rookie league this season.

GMs respond to trade requests with emojis and GIFs?

Ben Nicholson-Smith from SportsNet Canada with my favorite piece of reporting of the week. He reported this morning that he learned this week that GMs use emojis while texting about trade deals, but some also reply with GIFs.

And some actual news…

The Cardinals received the #39 pick in the competitive balance lottery. And Lance Lynn official declines his qualifying offer.

News: Lance Lynn declines qualifying offer

What happened. Free agent RHP Lance Lynn declined the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1 year, $17.4 million qualifying offer to remain a free agent. As a result, the Cardinals will get a Competitive Balance Round B pick in next summer’s draft regardless of how much Lynn signs for.

The story. Teams can offer their outgoing free agents a one year “qualifying offer” that this year was valued at $17.4 million. If the player accepts, they are no longer a free agent and are under the terms of that qualifying offer. If the player rejects the offer and then signs with another team the team can receive a compensatory draft pick.

For a player like Lynn, he is in free agency looking for bigger money and more years than the one year qualifying offer, so he declined it.

The numbers. How much Lynn stands to gain on the free agent market has been a big question. Personally, I see him between $110 and $125 million over 5 years. However MLB Trade Rumors had him at 4 years, $56 million and Fangraphs had him at 3 years, $48 million. That’s a stark difference.

The impact. 1/10. He was going to reject this offer anyway. Though I believe he could have benefited from betting on himself again and returning for another year. Prove that 2017 was no fluke and that the wall he hit in September was purely because he didn’t pitch in 2016.

However, he may not have been enthused about the idea of accepting a one year return to St. Louis given that the club didn’t make any contact about negotiating a contract extension last year.

Personally, if he does fall to the ranges that are suggested by MLBTR and Fangraphs, it would behoove the Cardinals to jump onboard and bring Lynn back. I get the argument that he isn’t the kind of guy you want to drop $25 million a year on, but if the number gets down into the $14 to $16 million range, the arguments lose steam quickly given his track record.

News: Cardinals receive Competitive Balance draft pick

What happened. The St. Louis Cardinals received the #39 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft as part of the Competitive Balance process.

The story. In the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the MLB instituted a Competitive Balance Round of the draft. The process was continued in the 2017 CBA. The 10 lowest-revenue clubs and the clubs from the 10 smallest markets are eligible to receive a Competitive Balance pick. You can read more about it at the MLB.com Glossary if you want more info.

The numbers. The Cardinals will pick at #19 in the first round of the MLB Draft and now they will pick up pick #39.

The impact. 3/10. After losing their first three picks in last season’s draft, one a compensatory pick to the Cubs for signing Dexter Fowler and the other two for an employee hacking the Astros’ analytics database, they will now gain an extra pick early in this season’s draft.

Who knows who they’ll pick or who will be available at this point, but there should still be some good talent available at #39. Dakota Hudson was taken #34 in 2016. Jake Woodford was taken #39 in 2015. Jack Flaherty was taken #34 in 2014. Stephen Piscotty was taken #36 in 2012. So the potential upside there is strong.

Something special about the Competitive Balance picks as well is that they can be traded, though only during the regular season. So don’t expect that to be part of the compensation package for a player like Giancarlo Stanton.

 

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 3

And were off on the penultimate day of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida. As always I recommend clicking through to the articles to support the reporters who are doing the work getting us these nuggets that keep us on the edges of our seats.

And if you’ve been visiting another planet for the last couple days, catch up with Day 2 and Day 1 notebooks as well.

Morrison weighing offer from the Cardinals?

Rob Rains reported yesterday afternoon (and apparently I missed it) when discussing that the Cardinals had talked to free agent first baseman Logan Morrison that he was also reporting that Rains was weighing contract offers from the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels.

Morrison is hard to figure out just how much he would command in free agency, so I don’t have a guess that would be worth anything. He’s coming off a 1 year, $2.5 million deal with Tampa that had another $1.25 million in incentives.

Morrison was worth 3.3 WAR over 601 plate appearances last season. Based on my tweet this morning with last season’s WAR/600 numbers, that would have put him in an effective tie with Dexter Fowler as the team’s third most valuable player in 2017. But his previous career high in WAR was 1.1 in 2014. So it is yet to be determined whether that’s repeatable, real change in approach or whether it’s a fluke. In addition, those 601 plate appearances are a career high for a player who debuted in 2010.

With the news that Matt Carpenter has been told to come to camp expecting to be a “super utility” guy, it looks like Morrison might be their option at first base.

Cardinals and Rays have talked about Colome?

Jon Morosi reported this afternoon that the the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays have discussed closer Alex Colome in trade talks. Derrick Goold added that it’s not the first time the Cardinals have called the Rays asking about Colome either.

The 28-year-old Colome is one of my favorite potential Cardinals’ targets this winter. Colome led the league with 47 saves last season for the Rays with a 3.24 ERA. He has three years of salary arbitration remaining and would likely cost quite a bit to bring in. However, the other options like Wade Davis or Greg Holland pose their own questions. The Rays, who are looking at a franchise high in payroll next season, may have interest in selling off guys who don’t have guaranteed contracts. Colome is projected to earn $5.5 million this season.

There is some concern with his drop in strikeouts from 11.3 K/9 to 7.8 K/9, but he started using his cutter more this year than ever before and saw a huge drop in line drive rates while maintaining an increase in ground ball rates.

Cardinals and Marlins talk about Stanton?

Jon Morosi is also reporting this afternoon that the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins discussed trade concepts based around acquiring Giancarlo Stanton today. Presuming this means anything more than what’s already been talked about for the better part of two weeks, this would seem to indicate there’s some traction there.

Derrick Goold added that the two sides also met to discuss improvements to Roger Dean Stadium, where both spend spring training. The park needs some modernization and the lease requires mirroring improvements.

Cardinals have no interest in Martinez?

Derrick Goold is reporting this afternoon that the Cardinals have no interest in J.D. Martinez and have had internal conversations about Carlos Gonzalez.

I’m not a big fan of signing a player off a career year mainly because you’re likely to overpay for regression. That’s Martinez. His .690 slugging percentage was impressive, but a far cry from the .540 slugging percentage he averaged over the previous three seasons. He also hit twice as many home runs as he did in 2016 in one fewer game. In other words, that’s some unsustainable success.

For Carlos Gonzalez, he struggled last season before finishing it on fire. Unfortunately, he still struggled away from Coors Field. That’s not to mean he might not still be capable of being a productive player. I feel like playing at Coors Field for 81 games a year creates bad habits in hitters. His bat is not the answer the Cardinals are looking for, but it may allow them to make another player available for acquiring someone they need via trade.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 2

Day 2 of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida took place today. Unlike yesterday, we’ll just go ahead and call this “Stanton Day” as we finally have everyone involved playing games with media leaks.

Stanton’s price too high?

Buster Olney reported this morning that rival executives believe that the Marlins’ asking price for Giancarlo Stanton is “shockingly high and somewhat out of touch with reality.”

This probably means that the Marlins don’t want to eat much contract, but still want to receive meaningful prospects in return. Given that Stanton’s remaining deal is not extreme for what he is and similar to what he would receive in free agency, I think the Marlins do have a point. Unfortunately, everyone knows their motivations for wanting to move him.

Trying to sift fact from fiction on Stanton is difficult because so much has been bouncing around that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s just pure discussion while frustrated that nothing’s happening. But I’m growing to believe that Stanton is willing and wanting to stay in Miami, but would prefer to win. This is why he can be as picky as it sounds like he’s willing to be. Because the worst case is living somewhere he wants to be. I’m growing convinced that this is not a “get out of town at all costs” situation.

Rays listening on players?

Jon Heyman reported this morning that the Rays are listening to other teams on many of their players. Some listed in the article as potential candidates are Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, and potentially even Evan Longoria who is just shy of receiving 10/5 rights (after 10 years in the league, five years with a franchise gives players the ability to block a trade).

Given what the Rays said yesterday about Archer being one of the guys they intend to build around, I find it doubtful that they’re too serious about dealing him, but there are a number of players here I’d have interest in if I were the Cardinals.

I think Odorizzi could benefit from a move out of the AL East. He had a rough summer, but otherwise put together a decent year. I can’t imagine he would cost that much given his recent struggles and he should be cheap enough that you could cut him loose if he doesn’t figure it out. I really like Colome, their closer. And Kiermaier may be the best defensive center fielder in baseball. To give you an idea of how good, Kiermaier missed time with a hip fracture last season and was still worth 5+ WAR thanks to his defense.

Stanton won’t accept a trade to Red Sox or Cardinals?

Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald reported this morning a source tells him that Stanton will not accept a trade to the Red Sox or the Cardinals. Those were the two teams believed just yesterday to be most heavily pursuing him.

Whether this is just gamesmanship at this point is the question. The Marlins are the gatekeeper. They’re setting the standard of the kind of return they want to get before they present Stanton the option to say yes or no. And then it’s up to Stanton to decide what he wants to do.

Derrick Goold discussed how no trade clauses can affect trade discussions between teams, using Houston’s Justin Verlander pursuit as the example. However the distinct difference there is that Houston was leading the AL East and was poised to be the best team in the American League. The Cardinals won 83 games and finished third in the NL Central, falling further back from postseason contention than they were the year before. Filling the club’s other needs may be the key to convincing Stanton that St. Louis is a worthy destination.

Seven teams have checked in on Stanton?

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that as many as seven teams have inquired about what it would take to trade for Stanton.

Obviously there’s no more information here beyond teams checking in. This could be ask easy as someone asking what it would take, laughing, and then walking away to go sign J.D. Martinez. That’s what we don’t know. But obviously a player of Stanton’s caliber being available is worth doing your due diligence on. The last thing you want his him going somewhere else for a price you definitely would have paid.

Stanton hasn’t ruled out any destination?

Battle of the conflicting reports. Evan Drelich of NBC Sports reported this afternoon that according to a source with knowledge of Stanton’s thinking he has not ruled out any potential destinations.

And just like that the Cardinals have a chance again. Obviously there’s the battle of leverage being played out. The more destinations it seems like Stanton might have, the more likely an organization is to increase their offer in an effort to get past the gatekeeper. If the world knew Stanton only wanted to play for one or two franchises, the Marlins have much less bargaining power.

Cardinals have talked to Morrison?

Rob Rains reported this afternoon that the Cardinals have had conversations with first baseman Logan Morrison. It was reported yesterday by Jon Heyman that the Cardinals were exploring options at first base and Morrison has been linked with the Cardinals before.

Morrison hit 38 home runs last season to go along with a .246/.353/.516 batting line. He had a 135 OPS+ after being a barely above average Major League player for the previous seven seasons. In fact, before he posted a 3.6 WAR this season, he had never had more than the 1.4 WAR he put up in 99 games with Seattle in 2014.

Certainly Morrison’s 2017 was nice, but he has more track record as a middle of the road hitter than he does as a middle of the order hitter. And the Cardinals have plenty of the former already.

Cardinals interested in Ohtani?

Rains also reported that the Cardinals do have interest in Shohei Ohtani if he does get approved by the MLB and posted. Ohtani has said that money is not his primary factor and wants to continue to play two ways. One would think the Cardinals would have to let him both pitch and play in the outfield in order to nab him since they have a maximum bonus cap of $300,000 for international free agents, much less than other teams who aren’t under penalty.

On top of whatever they pay Ohtani in signing bonus, they would have to pay the $20 million posting fee in addition.

Carpenter to be “super utility guy”

Derrick Goold reported this evening that the Cardinals have told Matt Carpenter he should prepare to be a “super utility guy” in 2018 depending on who the team acquires and what they do this winter.

I’m sure many of us collectively cringe when they hear that. I’m not opposed to the idea of Matt Carpenter defensively at first base, second base, third base, or even a corner outfield spot. However, I do note when looking at his defensive metrics that he is generally better overall when he plays one position. His worst defensive seasons have come when he’s been bouncing around the infield. That’s a concern to me.

Also is the shoulder if rest doesn’t fix it. Last season he discussed the shoulder hurting him when he threw. Will he really be able to play a position that asks him to throw the ball regularly? And if he elects to play through the pain once again, is the team prepared to take a diminished offensive Carpenter?

Reyes to miss opener, begin as reliever

Rick Hummel reported this evening that the Cardinals intend to have Alex Reyes begin his season around May 1st and putting him into the bullpen depending on the team’s needs. John Mozeliak said that he believes Reyes would be ready on Opening Day, but this is to watch his innings and ensure that he is available at the end of the season. There’s also some notes in there about Sandy Alcantara.

This confirms what I’ve been suggesting since the beginning that they will bring Reyes along slowly. No need to push him into the rotation out of the gate this year, even though Mozeliak indicates he believes Reyes will be ready.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 1

Today was the first day of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida. I’ve gone ahead and put together a notebook recap of the pertinent Cardinals’ related rumors to catch you up. And, to answer everyone’s first question, there has been no substantive movement on Giancarlo Stanton today.

Cardinals looking at Darvish, Arrieta and starting pitching trades?

Fan Rag Sports’ Jon Heyman who indicated this morning that the Cardinals were looking at Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but would be exploring the trade market for a starting pitcher first.

In the article he links to, he writes that the Cardinals met with agents from the Wasserman Group for an hour last night and discussed pitching. Wasserman represents Giancarlo Stanton, but on the pitching side also represents free agents Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Addison Reed.

I’ve argued since before the 2017 season that the Cardinals will have a need at starting pitcher next season, but this is the team’s first real admission that they might be uncomfortable entering 2018 with a rotation that consists of two rookies, a former ace who had back and arm issues last season, a pitcher who literally gets hurt by pitching too much, and Carlos Martinez.

I still prefer Lance Lynn to Darvish and Arrieta, however. Especially if his contract falls to the kind of numbers that MLB Trade Rumors and Fangraphs has suggested it will. I know looking purely at results is frowned upon, but he had the best of the three. And I think there are other reasons why his more advanced metrics were bad other than them just being a precursor to marked decline.

But given the wording of the article, Heyman’s sources could have been intentionally vague to make it seem as if the Cardinals could be interested in more than they are.

Beltran retires & getting looks as Yankees manager?

Carlos Beltran became a World Series champion with the Houston Astros just a couple weeks ago and there were rumors that he would retire following the season. And today he confirmed those as he officially announced his retirement in a post over at The Players’ Tribune.

In addition, there’s some speculation that he could be considered for the Yankees’ open managerial position.

Cardinals exploring first base options?

Another report from Jon Heyman this afternoon, indicates that the Cardinals are exploring options at first base. Available free agent first base options that could interest the Cardinals at the top of the board include Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. An intriguing thought could be Adam Lind in a playing time share with Jose Martinez at first base.

The move would most likely mean Matt Carpenter would slide back across the diamond to third base full time. Martinez had a strong season with a 135 wRC+ that ranked second on the Cardinals and 30th among MLB players who appeared in at least 100 games.

Cardinals want to sign “multiple” relievers?

In his notes about today’s happenings in Orlando, Derrick Goold pointed out the Cardinals’ interest in signing some bullpen help. He pointed out that General Manager Michael Girsch indicated that they want to sign “multiple” relievers and that the meeting last night with the agent for Darvish, Morrow, and Reed may have been to discuss the fits for the two latter named players rather than the first.

News: Adam Wainwright picks up sought after Silver Slugger

What happened. St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright named by Louisville Slugger as the best hitting pitcher in the National League in 2017.

The story. The “Silver Slugger Award” is presented by Louisville Slugger to the best offensive player at every position in the American League and the National League. The winner is determined by votes from managers and coaches.

The numbers. Adam Wainwright posted a slash line of .262/.279/.452 with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs in 42 at bats this season. He led all Cardinals pitchers in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored, and tied for the lead in runs batted in.

On April 21st against Milwaukee, he went 2-for-3 and hit a two run home run to put the Cardinals on top 2-1. And then hit a two RBI single in the next inning to stretch the lead to four runs.

His next home run came on June 1st against the Dodgers. He hit a two-run home run to put the Cardinals on top 2-0 and the score would stay that way.

On July 22nd against Chicago, he only went 1-for-3, but that hit broke up a perfect game bid by Jon Lester in the sixth inning.

Wainwright led the his fellow pitchers in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage and tied with Cardinals’ teammate Carlos Martinez in runs batted in with 11. He was second in home runs behind Madison Bumgarner, who started just 17 games this season.

He had a .462 batting average this season with runners in scoring position.

Over the past two seasons now, Wainwright has hit .231/.252/.452 with 9 doubles, a triple, 4 home runs, and 29 RBI in 119 plate appearances. Projected out to 600 plate appearances, that puts Wainwright on pace for 45 doubles, 5 triples, 20 home runs, and 146 RBI.

The impact. 3/10. This was an award that Wainwright had spoken of wanting to win many times.

Wainwright becomes the third Cardinals’ pitcher to win a Silver Slugger Award since they began giving out the award in 1980, joining Bob Forsch and Jason Marquis.