Alex Reyes to undergo Tommy John surgery; miss 2017 season

I was hoping to start the spring off with a hopeful missive. But Cardinal fans received fateful news yesterday afternoon. Alex Reyes had felt discomfort during a side session at home last week and told the team. Then during his physical on Tuesday, the team medical staff decided to have an MRI done. Today the fears were realized when the team confirmed that he would undergo Tommy John surgery, effectively ending his 2017 season on just the second official day of spring training.

Yet again the injury bug bites the Cardinals before the season even begins. Over the last decade that list has included Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Marco Gonzales, Tim Cooney, and that’s just off the top of my head. Now the list also includes Reyes.

Reyes, 22, struggled in the minors this year, but posted a 1.57 ERA over 46 innings of work in St. Louis last season, becoming one of the bright spots of a lost season. He is currently ranked #1 on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101, #4 on Baseball America’s Top 100, and #6 on MLB.com Pipeline’s Top 100.

Going into the 2017 season, Reyes was a wild card. There was perhaps no player who could shuffle the deck for the Cardinals’ pitching staff more than Reyes. He was supposed to be in a battle for the fifth rotation spot with Michael Wacha and a long shot Trevor Rosenthal, even though it was likely Wacha’s spot to lose all the way.

It was much more likely that Reyes would be penciled into a relief role for the Cardinals to begin the season, following in the footsteps of Carlos Martinez. Instead, he’ll spent the season on the disabled list.

The loss of Reyes impacts not only 2017, but conceivably the following seasons as well.

The injury will push his development back at least a season, maybe two. Not only will he miss the 2017 season, but the 2018 season will be hampered as well. While pitchers are usually healed and physically ready to pitch within 12 months after Tommy John, it usually takes them much closer to 18 months to get back the feel for their pitches and their velocity.

Beyond that, he threw just 111 innings last season and has floated around that number over the past three seasons. He will likely be in salary arbitration well before he can be expected to throw 200+ innings in a season as a starting pitcher. That means a much more limited window for him to demonstrate his value to the Cardinals.

And of course, he will accrue service time.

If you’re a procedure nut like myself, you were wondering if there is a loophole that the Cardinals could use to option him to the minors and keep him from accruing Major League service time this year, thus giving the team another year of team control on the back end. If you’re injured in spring training, the answer is obvious. But if you essentially showed up to spring training injured?

In short? The answer is no.

Article XIX, Section C of the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement covers assignment of players on the disabled list. Paragraph 1 is very straight forward when it says, “Players who are injured and not able to play may not be assigned to a Minor League club.”

However, Paragraph 2 does provide some exceptions for when a player can be sent to the minors while injured. The first exception is following the conclusion of the regular season and the filing of the Major League Reserves List, or 40 man roster (which was November 20th this offseason). The second is from the filing of the Major League Reserves List until 15 days before the next season begins.

Reyes’ injury would fall into that second exception, which leaves a four part test, laid out in the CBA, as to whether the Cardinals could option Reyes to the minors before placing him on the disabled list.

  1. The Player has less than three years of Major League service; (Yes)
  2. the contemplated assignment would not be the the Player’s second (or subsequent) career outright assignment since March 19, 1990; (Yes)
  3. the Player had no Major League service prior to the championship season; and (No)
  4. the Player was not selected by the assignor Major League Club in the immediately preceding Rule 5 Draft. (Yes)

As you can see, Reyes fails on the third test since he has 55 days of MLB service time from last season. That means Reyes will accrue a full year of MLB service time while on the disabled list next season.

The rule is basically designed so that a player’s MLB service clock is not started by a trip on the disabled list. But once you make it to the Majors and your clock has already started, the same concerns are no longer applicable. 2016: The gift that keeps on giving.

The team will have do 2017 without one of it’s top prospects and then make a decision for what they intend to do with the starting rotation for 2018. There will be an open spot with Lance Lynn destined for free agency. Will it go to Reyes or will it go to someone who established this year that they deserve that opportunity?

Cardinals win arbitration case with Wacha

The Cardinals may not have been in an arbitration hearing since 1999, but Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak is now 1-0 in arbitration cases. During today’s arbitration hearing, the arbiter decided to award pitcher Michael Wacha the $2.775 million salary figure submitted by the Cardinals.

Back in January the organization agreed to terms with three of their arbitration eligible players right before salary figures were exchanged. And then we heard all about “trial-and-file” during Winter Warmup as the club spoke of their intentions to take all players to an arbitration hearing if they were unable to reach an agreement before the exchange.

The club signed Carlos Martinez to a record setting five year deal almost two weeks ago, but there was no deal for Wacha who struggled last season and saw a return of the stress reaction in his shoulder.

For his part, Wacha has come to camp in better shape, having worked to strengthen his body and the shoulder to hopefully reduce the load on his shoulder to reduce the odds of having yet another recurrence.

It was an interesting measure of potential gamesmanship that the news of Alex Reyes‘ MRI exam came after Wacha’s hearing. Perhaps to ensure that Wacha could not use that to his advantage?

Cardinals ink Martinez to a record 5 year extension

Just when you were thinking John Mozeliak was really planning to take Carlos Martinez to an arbitration hearing, he once again proves himself a liar. Near the end of the Winter Meetings he says he doesn’t expect anything to happen for awhile, and then Dexter Fowler agrees to terms later that night. He says they’re taking Carlos Martinez to arbitration to prove a point, and only a week until the hearing locks him into an extension.

I’m joking about Mo being a liar, but really! Taking Martinez to arbitration was a bad idea and it seemed like everyone knew it. Except Mozeliak.

Martinez, 25, appears to be a pitcher on the verge of becoming a staff ace. He threw 195 innings, won 16 games and posted a 3.04 ERA as he carried the starting rotation last season. He was the only Cardinals’ pitcher to post a positive ERA+ and start more than 5 games.

Potential contract extension numbers for Martinez has been a hot topic this winter, and I had suggested that I saw Martinez going for a 4 year, $50 million deal. So the Cardinals getting him locked up for $51 million over 5 years and then having two option years on the end of that is a great deal for the club. That same deal is the largest contract ever for a first-time arbitration-eligible pitcher.

I’ve said it plenty of times before, but I have high hopes for Martinez. There were times last season where I felt like he just chose not to use his best stuff and still dominated the opponent anyway. The only thing standing between Martinez and being considered a true ace and sliding himself into the conversation as one of the best pitchers in the league is establishing consistency. It’s time for him to make that happen and I’m excited that I get to watch it.

Cardinals lose first two picks in 2017 draft and $2 million for Astros hacking scandal

For the most part, I am just happy that the Cardinals can finally put “hackgate” or whatever you want to call it behind them and begin planning for the future. The Cardinals will forfeit their first two picks in the 2017 draft to the Astros as well as pay them a $2 million fine. That penalty ends up right about the middle of what baseball fans wanted to see. Some wanted more, some wanted less.

I wonder how the Astros’ AL West opponents feel with a club in their division receiving two free draft picks. Especially when there was not any real damage to the Astros’ organization. After all, it’s not like the Cardinals used the information to swoop in and steal a deal the Astros were working on. The balance of power in the AL West will be worth watching in three or four years.

It sets up an interesting box for the Cardinals. They are already under penalty for exceeding their international spending cap last year and now they lose their two highest draft picks this summer. With the trade costs we saw this winter, trading out of the prospect pool that the organization will need to rely on to produce talent and absorb the loss of those picks is very unlikely. That leaves the only feasible way to improve the club as free agency.

The organization talks about having money to spend, but it is always careful, perhaps overly so, about how they spend it.

Part of me has wondered if they were waiting to know exactly what the penalty was going to be before opening the checkbook since that money is the only way John Mozeliak can really improve the team for the next few seasons. Now we know, and now this winter will be interesting to watch and see how Mozeliak adapts to it being his only option.

But I did get thinking about the penalty in light of the penalty that the San Diego Padres got in September for intentionally withholding medical treatment information from the central database that all the teams use. The reported reason was to gain an advantage in trade negotiations. All the Padres’ GM got for orchestrating this scheme was a one month suspension during the quietest month of the year for an MLB GM. The organization received no other penalties.

So in San Diego, you have a proven and orchestrated effort by management of the club to potentially defraud the other 29 clubs.

But in St. Louis, even if John Mozeliak personally sanctioned the hacking and used that information in his day-to-day decision making, still only one club was placed at a disadvantage.

The Padres got slapped on the wrist. The Cardinals got punched in the mouth.

Granted, no federal laws were broken when the Padres failed to report the medical information, but that would seem to be why it’s even more important that Major League Baseball step in and do something to penalize it. As Mozeliak said when asked whether MLB’s penalties against the Cardinals establish a strong enough deterrent for clubs not to hack each other, he replied that four years in prison for Chris Correa would seem like a pretty good deterrent.

The penalties do not have any equivalency, especially when the Astros did not have to demonstrate that they were harmed by Correa’s access to their system nor did they have to defend charges that they possessed the Cardinals’ intellectual property.

The Red Sox and Marlins both discovered that the players they acquired from the Padres had more medical issues than they believed because they were not reported to the central database.

Of course, the Astros officially deny that they used any Cardinals’ intellectual property in the development of their “Ground Control” analytics system. However, regardless of what you want to believe, I suggest that it would be impossible for Jeff Luhnow and Sig Mejdal to play key roles in the development of the Cardinals’ analytics system and not reuse some of that knowledge and the lessons learned as they developed the AStros’ analytics system.

They did not go to Houston and reinvent the wheel and magically forget what they did for years in St. Louis. No, they would have built off the idea using what they already knew and learned while building the Cardinals’ system. That knowledge, whether or not it “belongs” to the Cardinals, is what made them worth hiring.

So the penalty does seem out of line with what was deserved. Now I know a little bit about how Patriots fans feel about “deflategate.”

Regardless, I’m glad the organization has it behind them.

Rosenthal and Siegrist avoid arbitration too

The Cardinals have officially avoided arbitration with Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist as well as Matt Adams as all three agreed to terms on one-year deals today. Today was the deadline for teams and players to exchange salary numbers for arbitration.

Siegrist will earn about $1.6 million in his first year of arbitration. The 27 year old former 41st round pick posted a 2.77 ERA over 62 innings of work for the Cardinals last season. He has proven himself to be a reliable setup man for Mike Matheny as he has a 2.44 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over the past two seasons. In 2015 he led the league in appearances with 81.

Rosenthal will make $6.4 million in his second year of arbitration, a raise from the $5.6 million he made last season. The 26 year old Rosenthal is coming off a disastrous season that saw him post a 4.46 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP over 40 innings of work. When you factor in the importance of the innings he pitched early in the season, Rosenthal was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball last season. Those struggles were carried by a 6.5 BB/9 rate.

The big news may be that the Cardinals did not come to terms with their two other arbitration eligible players, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. It’s believed that the club could be working on an extension for Martinez, but Wacha will likely soon come to terms with the club.

Adams agrees to deal as arbitration figures are due to be exchanged

The St. Louis Cardinals and first baseman Matt Adams agreed to a one year deal yesterday that avoids the arbitration process for the second year eligible player. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is for 1 year and worth $2.8 million. That represents a raise from the $1.65 million he earned last year and equal to the $2.8 million salary he was projected to earn this season by MLB Trade Rumors.

Adams, 28, hit .249/.309/.471 last season with 16 home runs in 118 games for the Cardinals. With the organization verbally committing to Matt Carpenter at first base, Adams looks to be the left handed power bat off the bench. Adams excelled as a pinch hitter last season, going 12-for-37 (.324) with 3 HR and 13 RBI.

This is Adams’ second year of arbitration eligibility, so while the team is not committed to him past the 2017 season, they hold one more year of team control on him if they choose to exercise it.

Arbitration eligible players are scheduled to exchange figures with their teams today as they prepare for February hearings if agreements can’t be reached. The Cardinals have four players who are arbitration eligible and have yet to reach agreements: Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Kevin Siegrist.

Today those players and the Cardinals will exchange salary figures, the players indicating what they wish to be paid and the Cardinals indicating what they wish to pay them. Usually at this point an agreement can come quickly since all the cards are on the table. However, if the two sides are still unable to reach an agreement, an arbitration hearing will be scheduled in February. Both sides will present their cases as to why their salary number is correct and then the arbiter will decide which figure the player will be paid.

The Cardinals have not had a negotiation reach the arbitration hearing since 1999.

Cardinals set to sign Dexter Fowler

KSDK’s Frank Cusumano was the first that I saw on the case with the news that Dexter Fowler was coming to St. Louis for a physical. That could mean only one thing, a deal was imminent. John Mozeliak will get his man after Derrick Goold reported Mozeliak went “over the top” in order to ensure that Fowler would sign with the Cardinals.

Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the deal is done and, as long as the physical goes off without a hitch tomorrow, there’s already a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning.

The actual terms of the deal are still unknown, but Jon Heyman has reported the deal to be for five years and between $80 and 90 million. That’s a span of $16 million to $18 million in average annual value.

The question that fans have now is whether Fowler is worth it. I say yes for multiple reasons.

He was the player the Cardinals needed

Beyond all the talk about dollars, on field performance, and value, he was the player that the Cardinals needed to get. They needed to add an outfielder and Fowler was the best available in free agency. When it became obvious that a trade for someone like Adam Eaton or Lorenzo Cain wasn’t going to happen, they needed to get Fowler.

And to Mozeliak’s credit, he put enough money on the table to get Fowler to sign on the dotted line before another team had the chance. Given my article from this morning, I’m taking credit for that.

His offensive credentials are better than Jason Heyward’s

Last winter the Cardinals put a 10 year, $200 million offer on the table for Jason Heyward before he turned it down to play in Chicago. By all reports, Fowler’s deal will be half as long and less than half the money. Fowler is three years older, but the deal is five years shorter. Much less of a commitment here.

Fowler might not have the reputation for being the same five tool capable player that Heyward is, but he has plenty of tools himself. He has power, hitting 30 home runs over the last two seasons. He has speed, with 15 triples over the past two seasons and is a stolen base threat. He’s shown a couple times that he can hit for average and get on base.

Over the past three seasons, Fowler has hit .266/.369/.419 with 132 extra base hits in 397 games. In that same time span, Heyward hit .265/.339/.383 with 125 extra base hits in 445 games.

Fowler has even been more consistent, posting an OPS+ above league average in each of the last six seasons. Heyward can only say he’s done that in four of the last six seasons.

I still question whether he’s a center fielder, but he should be good enough. And there’s still hope that they’ll play Fowler in left and Randal Grichuk in center, right?

He makes the lineup better

Last season Fowler hit .390/.483/.720 when leading off a game, all led the league. Signing Fowler gives the Cardinals a legitimate option to take over in the leadoff spot and move Matt Carpenter back in the lineup where he belongs.

That helps make the Cardinals’ lineup deeper and anything that can be done to improve that is a good thing.

Cardinals select Austin Wilson in Minor League portion of Rule 5 Draft; lose Allen Cordoba

The Cardinals originally selected Austin Wilson in the 12th round of the 2010 draft. After bringing him to Busch Stadium for batting practice and meet with coaches in an attempt to recruit him away from his commitment to Stanford University, Wilson decided to turn down the Cardinals and go to school. Three years later he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Seattle Mariners.

With four seasons under his belt in the Mariners’ farm system, Wilson has yet to rise above the High-A level. He is a career .249/.346/.418 hitter so far with 42 home runs in 311 games. At 24, he is behind schedule, but obviously the Cardinals have kept tabs on him since he turned them down and think he can provide some value to them.

He has struggled his past two seasons in High-A Bakersfield for the Mariners, batting .233/.340/.374 with 23 home runs in just over 200 games.

Wilson is a big guy with a power swing. When he hits the ball, he hits it hard. The problem has been that he doesn’t hit the ball enough.

His strikeout rate jumped to 36% last season, up from 26% the year before. But his walk rate jumped to 11% last season from 7% as well. His extra base hit rate remained about the same, at 6.6% to 6.4%.

It will likely amount to nothing, but I do feel like it’s a good gamble by the Cardinals. They liked Wilson enough to draft him six years ago and maybe they can sort out some of his problems and unlock that talent they saw.

He was selected in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Unlike players selected in the Major League portion, those selected in the Minor League portion do not have the same rules to dictate where they stay for a season. I would expect him to start the season with Double-A Springfield.

Cardinals lose Allen Cordoba in MLB portion of Rule 5 Draft

For the second year in a row, the Padres have raided the Cardinals’ minor league system in the Rule 5 Draft. In 2015, they selected Luis Perdomo. With their third pick in the draft, they have selected SS Allen Cordoba.

Cordoba, 21, will have to make a big jump to the Majors next year after playing last season for Johnson City in the Appalachian League. He hit .362/.427/.495 last season for the Cardinals’ rookie level affiliate. He has played mostly shortstop in his career, though played third in 2015 while Edmundo Sosa — who was protected by the Cardinals — played shortstop.

The story on him seems to be that his defense is likely capable of staying at shortstop. He isn’t flashy, like some of the Cardinals’ other prospects, but his bat is the big question mark.

The Cardinals have a crowded middle infield in their minor league system. They added three middle infielders to their 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft in Sosa, Eliezar Alvarez, and Breyvic Valera. And guys like Delvin Perez and Randy Arozarena on the top prospects list along with new addition Luke Dykstra.

Cardinals non-tender Seth Maness; bring back Adams and others

Today was Major League Baseball’s non-tender deadline. In case you’re not sure what that means, basically there are two classes of players under team control. There are players in their first three years of service who have their salaries set by the team, usually around the league minimum. Then there are players in their next three years of service who have their salaries set by arbitration. Now, there are more nuances than that, but that’s the basics. For those arbitration eligible players, today was the deadline to offer them their one-year contract for next season or to “non-tender” them and make them a free agent.

There were six Cardinals eligible for salary arbitration for 2017, first baseman Matt Adams and pitchers Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness.

The Cardinals have confirmed that they have tendered contracts to Adams, Martinez, Wacha, Rosenthal, and Siegrist. So those five players are now under contract with the Cardinals for 2017. Those players and the team have until the arbitration hearing in February to agree on the player’s salary for 2017. If they can’t come to an agreement before the hearing, both sides submit a figure to the arbiter of what they believe the player should be paid and the arbiter decides who is right. The Cardinals haven’t had a case go to arbitration since the 1990s.

But there is one player that wasn’t tendered a contract, that was Seth Maness.

Maness, 28, has a career 3.19 ERA over 4 seasons with the Cardinals. He struggled this past season, but managed to put together a strong stretch through the summer, even while pitching injured. His season came to an end in August with what was said to have been Tommy John surgery. But he ended up only needing a UCL reconstruction, which gave the hope that he’d be back on the mound in 6–8 months instead of the 12–18 month recovery for Tommy John.

If you followed me on Twitter this afternoon, you know how surprised I was that Maness was let go. I figured Adams was on the fence, but argued that Maness was likely safe.

I argued that the quicker recovery time plus his relatively low salary, and him still having multiple seasons of team control ahead of him — even if he didn’t pitching 2017 — worked in his favor that they would hold onto him. I guess I was wrong.

In fact, I’m even more surprised that they let Maness go and did not perform a hard core culling of the roster that included Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal is projected to make $6.3 million — four times more than Maness — and was arguably the worst pitcher in the Majors last year. His 1.91 WHIP was just 0.002 from being the worst in the Majors among relievers who threw at least 40 innings, only former Cardinal Michael Blazek saving him from that honor. But Blazek would not have pitched the same high leverage situations that Rosenthal did.

For the guys who were kept, the roles of Siegrist and Martinez are pretty set and while the roles for Rosenthal and Wacha aren’t public, the team has discussed that they are bouncing around some ideas for what their roles would be. The question that today brings up is what the future holds for Matt Adams.

Adams, 28, hit .249/.309/.371 with 16 home runs last season for the Cardinals. Long considered a platoon candidate, Adams had his best season ever against left handed pitching, batting .283 with 3 home runs against them. There was even a point in May where Adams was the team’s leading offensive threat.

But the Cardinals recently committed to Matt Carpenter as their everyday first baseman for 2017, which means that Adams doesn’t have a pathway to a starting role for the team next year, something he’s always been given in St. Louis.

Some have suggested that he could be used off of the bench, and it does make sense as he’s hit .330 with 7 home runs as a pinch hitter in his career. However, he’s only ever played first base. Carpenter has played 154+ games three times in the past four years, so that leaves, at most, 10 starts for Adams. Even if he made 60 pinch hit appearances, that’s not even 100 plate appearances.

Adams’ best value to this team should be by trade. Either in a package to acquire something the team needs or prospects. But unlike with Jaime Garcia, where he wanted to unload a $12.5 million hot potato, I don’t think Mozeliak has a problem being left with Adams in the spring because carrying an extra first baseman is a lot easier than an extra starting pitcher.

Cardinals trade Jaime Garcia to the Braves for three prospects

When the Cardinals picked up Jaime Garcia’s $12.5 million option for 2017 last month, there were some complaints, but generally an understanding that organization was likely aiming to flip him for some prospects. This afternoon the Cardinals completed a deal sending him to the Atlanta Braves for infielder Luke Dykstra and right handed pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis.

Garcia’s past seven years with the Cardinals has featured lots of promise and lots of disappointment. Promise in the 2.70 ERA he posted over 28 innings in 2010. Promise in the games like the one hitter he twirled in April. His career would be derailed in 2012 when he suffered a shoulder injury in his throwing arm. After a few false starts and a couple of surgeries, he would return in 2015 to capitalize on that promise, playing a crucial role in the Cardinals’ rotation after Adam Wainwright’s Achilles injury, going 10–6 with a 2.43 ERA over 20 starts. His 161 ERA+ that year ranking fifth best in baseball among starting pitchers who started at least 20 games, right behind the $217 million man, David Price.

Last year was not as successful as everyone hoped it would be. He seemed to hit a wall as a strong start into May would quickly derail through the summer. He would end up with a 4.67 ERA on the year and a 10–13 record. From June 1st on Garcia would go 6–9 with a 5.30 ERA and lose his spot in the rotation to Alex Reyes.

On one hand it was a victory for him to get through the entire season without an injury for the first time since 2011. It was perhaps even not unexpected for him to struggle in the second half, considering it was the most innings he’d thrown since 2011 as well. But it was still a disappointment for a team that languished down the stretch to miss the playoffs by a single game and needed better results out of him.

The Braves are getting a good pitcher, albeit one that still has to prove that he can stay on the field. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason why he can’t nail down a low to mid-3s ERA in Atlanta and make them consider a qualifying offer. The Braves have quickly and radically remade their rotation this winter, having signed R. A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon and now acquiring Garcia. Word is that they are still trying to bring in Chris Sale too.

The Cardinals’ return for Garcia, while not any headlining prospects, is still a solid haul.

Second baseman Luke Dykstra is likely the high upside or “lottery ticket” prospect, as I like to call them. He was probably viewed as expendable by the Braves as their top two prospects are shortstops — in Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies — and it would make sense that the eventual loser of that battle will end up at second base. Dykstra was a 7th round pick by the Braves in the 2014 draft and is ranked by MLB.com as their #29 prospect.

Dykstra, 21, hit .304/.332/.363 over 81 games for Single-A Rome last year. While he doesn’t walk much, he doesn’t strike out much either. He is a solid hitter that makes a lot of contact with low strikeout and walk rates. He has decent speed and good instincts all around, but how high he can rise will likely depend on how his plate discipline develops as he progresses to the higher levels of the minors.

The Cardinals are stacked up the middle right now, adding Edmundo Sosa and Eliezar Alvarez to their 40 man roster this winter to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, so it’s unclear where Dykstra will fit into the system at this point.

Right hander John Gant was a 21st round pick from the 2011 draft by the New York Mets and was acquired near the deadline in 2015 for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. He is ranked by MLB.com as the Braves’ #21 prospect.

Gant, 24, posted a 4.86 ERA over 50 innings for the Braves last season, making 7 starts and 13 relief appearances. He also posted a 3.97 ERA in 59 innings in the minors, most of which were at Triple-A Gwinnett. In the past he’s been projected as a fourth or fifth starter. He has a very good changeup and a curve that has improved over the last couple years. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s.

It would be reasonable to expect Gant to start the season in Memphis as a starting pitcher and be in line to be one of the first ones up in case of injury. He could probably fit in the rotation or the bullpen if needed. Gant will be on the 40 man roster, which is still full for the Cardinals.

The last piece is right hander Chris Ellis. Ellis is ranked #17 in the Braves’ system and was a third round pick by the Angels in 2014 before coming to Atlanta in the Andrelton Simmons trade.

Ellis, 24, was 8–2 with a 2.75 ERA over 13 starts for Double-A Mississippi last year, but failed to find his footing in Triple-A after a mid-season callup. In Gwinnett he was 4–7 with a 6.52 ERA.

The Cardinals will be his third organization in three years, so he could likely stand some consistency at this point. He is tall, 6-foot-5, with a two plus pitches, a fastball and slider. His fastball is only in the mid-90s, but has good life to it and his slider is swing-and-miss-type stuff. Control issues have plagued him so far in his pro career, most recently walking nearly 7 batters per nine while struggling with Gwinnett last year. Generally though, he has pitched well when he is throwing strikes.

I would expect Ellis to start the season in the rotation at Memphis. As a former third round pick, he will likely get every opportunity to succeed and figure out what kind of pitcher he’ll be.

All in all, I think this is a good trade for the Cardinals and the Braves too. The Cardinals get three talented young players in exchange for a pitcher that most fans wanted to say good bye. Is it a bad return? I don’t think so. Nobody was going to give up the moon to get Garcia and Mozeliak did not want to wait too long and get caught holding the bag.