News: Cardinals lose 8 to minor league free agency

What happened. Eight minor league players for the St. Louis Cardinals became minor league free agents yesterday. They are right handed pitchers Mark Montgomery, Miguel Socolovich, and Josh Zeid, catchers Gabriel Lino and Albert Rosario and outfielders Anthony Garcia, Nick Martini and C.J. McElroy. Baseball America has the list of all 572 players who became minor league free agents on Monday evening.

The story. Teams can renew a minor league player’s contract six times before the player can become eligible for minor league free agency and become eligible to sign with any other team. Players in this minor league free agency class would have been drafted in 2011 or earlier.

The numbers. Mark Montgomery, 27, joined the Cardinals organization this year on a minor league deal. The right hander posted a 2.43 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 66.2 relief innings for Triple-A Memphis, which left many surprised that he didn’t get an opportunity with all the bullpen shuffles the team made near the end of the season.

Miguel Socolovich, 31, joined the Cardinals in 2015 on a minor league deal and has spent time with the big league club. This past season he had a 4.15 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 39 innings for Triple-A Memphis. He was designated for assignment in May after posting an 8.68 ERA and 1.66 WHIP over 18.2 innings with the big league club. Over three years with the Cardinals he had a 3.80 ERA over 66.1 innings.

Josh Zeid, 30, joined the Cardinals this year and posted a 5.19 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP in 102.1 innings for Triple-A Memphis. He began the season in the rotation for Memphis, making 12 starts and 21 relief appearances.

Gabriel Lino, 24, also joined the Cardinals this season and began the season with Springfield, posting a .267/.339/.419 batting line over 58 games before moving to Memphis following the promotion of Carson Kelly in July. There Lino hit .236/.317/.347 over 22 games.

Alberto Rosario, 30, joined the Cardinals organization in 2015 as a minor league free agent and has served as catcher for most of that time with Triple-A Memphis. This season in Memphis he hit .247/.291/.279 over 50 games. He’s also served at times as the backup catcher for the big league club hitting .171/.209/.220 in 23 games over two years.

Anthony Garcia, 25, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 18th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. After a strong 2015 season where Garcia hit .285/.400/.476 with 11 home runs for Springfield, Garcia was added to the club’s 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He would struggle to find any traction in Triple-A, however, hitting .232/.299/.397 in 102 games with Memphis. He was outrighted off the 40 man roster in April 2017.

Nick Martini, 27, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 7th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. In a system packed with outfielder talent, Martini had somewhat of a breakout season this year, hitting .303/.394/.436 over 98 games for Triple-A Memphis.

C.J. McElroy, 24, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Twice named the Fastest Baserunner in the Cardinals’ system by Baseball America, he never quite reached the promise of a third round pick. It wasn’t until 2015, his fifth year in the organization that he hit his first home run. Over six seasons he hit .256/.325/.308 across four levels. He missed the 2017 season due to injury.

The impact. 1/10. These are guys that the organization doesn’t think can cut it at the big league level or they would have been protected. It’s also possible that they expect they can bring some of these guys back. I would expect Rosario to return to Memphis where he’ll get an opportunity to be the next catcher up for the organization, a role he’s had for the last few seasons.

I also hope that the club can bring back Mark Montgomery. With the numbers he had, it was a surprise to me that he didn’t get a shot this summer through all the bullpen turmoil that the club had.

Cardinals outright OF Anthony Garcia

The St. Louis Cardinals outrighted outfielder Anthony Garcia off the team’s 40 man roster on Monday.

Garcia, 25, was first put on the 40 man roster following the 2015 season when he hit .283/.391/.477 with 13 home runs between 87 games in Springfield and 18 games in Memphis. After that, the wheels fell off.

In 2016, Garcia started the season in Memphis and hit just .192/.281/.336 in his first 38 games before being demoted to Springfield in late May. He would stay in Springfield through mid-July and regain some traction. He would hit .280 with 5 home runs over his final 31 games in Memphis.

But this season he was off to a rough start, batting .182/.250/.303 with a home run over 12 games.

It is rare for an organization to make such a move during the season without a need for his roster spot, but the Cardinals took this opportunity to create a little more room on the 40 man roster, now carrying just 38 players.

Four more players trimmed from major league camp

The Cardinals optioned pitcher Rowan Wick and outfielder Anthony Garcia to minor league camp and assigned pitchers Josh Lucas and Zach Phillips there as well. That leaves 47 players in major league camp, including those playing the World Baseball Classic.

Wick, 24, is entering his second season since transitioning from position player to pitcher. He posted a 2.44 ERA over 44 innings between Palm Beach and Springfield last season. Over the winter he was added to the Cardinals’ 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but also means we could see him at some point on the big league roster.

This spring he made three appearances for the big league club, allowed 4 runs on four walks and one hit in just over 2 innings of work.

Garcia, 25, was an 18th round pick by the Cardinals in the 2009 draft and was added after a stellar 2015 years ago to the organization’s 40 man roster. But he struggled last season, hitting .238/.308/.388 between Springfield and Memphis.

With the depth at outfielder in the organization between the three big league starters, Harrison Bader, and Magneuris Sierra, Garcia may be the most vulnerable member of the 40 man roster. He hit .250 this spring with 2 home runs while appearing in 16 games for the big league club.

Lucas, 26, is a right handed pitcher drafted in the 21st round of the 2010 draft by the Cardinals. He posted a 3.25 ERA over 53 innings of work for Springfield last season. He also had some cups of coffee with Memphis where he struggled with a 9.39 ERA over 8 innings of work.

He took advantage of his opportunity this spring, throwing 5 scoreless innings of work, allowing 2 hits and a walk with 3 strikeouts.

Phillips, 30, is a left handed pitcher. He made 8 relief appearances for the Pirates last season, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 7 innings of work. Over 62 innings in Triple-A between the Pirates and the Orioles organizations, he had a 4.35 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.

He had some mixed results this spring, posting a 5.06 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over his 5 innings of work in 6 appearances.