St. Louis had 20 players become free agents following the 2013 season. Six were major league and 14 were minor league free agents.
Major league free agents
Of the major leaguers, four of the six are signed for 2014, with two having retired.
P Chris Carpenter – retired
P Jake Westbrook – retired
P Edward Mujica – Boston – two years, $9.5 million
P John Axford – Cleveland – one year, $4.5 million
IF Rafael Furcal – Miami – one year, $3.5 million
OF Carlos Beltran – Yankees – three years, $45 million
One of the better pitchers in Cardinals history, Carpenter retired at age 38 with 95 regular season and 10 important post-season wins with the club. He will be joining the team's front office. Westbrook provided valuable innings in his 3 ½ years as a Cardinal and bowed out at age 36.
|"Chief" now with Red Sox|
The Marlins signed Furcal to replace light-hitting Donovan Solano, a former Cards farmhand, at second base. This spring will provide answers as to whether Furcal has enough remaining in the tank to contribute. He may take the Miami roster spot of another former Cardinal, Placido Polanco, who was not asked back for 2014 and could be done.
The addition of Carlos Beltran by the Yankees gave the Cardinals salary relief, a compensatory draft pick and a way for Matt Adams and Allen Craig to play at the same time. On the other side of the coin, St. Louis lost its top home run hitter in each of the past two seasons.
Minor league free agents
Of the 14 minor league free agents, 12 have signed for the upcoming season. None received a major league deal with three securing non-roster invitations to major league camps (NRI). Of the 12, 10 are in affiliated ball in the US, one is going to play in independent ball and one has moved to Japan.
It is important to note that of the 14, only six were homegrown Cardinals, denoted by (h). Five of them are pitchers. As I pointed out in the 2014 Memphis roster prediction article, eight of Memphis' 12 position players to open last season and four of its pitchers had joined the Cardinals from the outside. Most of them are now ex-Cardinals.
P Victor Marte – unsigned
P Ramon Delgado (h) – unsigned
P Nick Additon (h) – Baltimore
P Richard Castillo (h) – Colorado
P Deryk Hooker (h) – Oakland
P Zack Russell (h) – Texas
P Jay Voss – Lancaster, Atlantic League
C Rob Johnson – San Diego
1B Brock Peterson – Washington (NRI)
3B Ruben Gotay – Cincinnati
OF Jamie Romak – Dodgers
OF Justin Christian – Tampa Bay (NRI)
OF Chad Huffman – Chiba Lotte Marines, Japan
OF Adron Chambers (h) – Houston (NRI)
Nick Additon and Richard Castillo performed valiant service as minor league starters, but seemed to lack the out pitch that would propel them to the majors. Relievers Deryk Hooker and Zack Russell drew notice as hard-throwers but ran out of runway. Jay Voss was once a good prospect with Miami and Detroit, but has struggled following Tommy John surgery and could do nothing in his year as a Cardinal.
Three 2013 Cardinals have scored non-roster invitations with their new organizations – first baseman Brock Peterson with the Nationals, outfielder Adron Chambers with the Astros and outfielder Justin Christian with the Rays. The first two played briefly with St. Louis last season, with Chambers the only home-grown Cardinal among the trio.
Chambers may also have the best chance of any of these free agents to recapture a 40-man roster spot, though none has a clear road ahead.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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