With the passing of Tuesday’s midnight EST deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals tendered 2015 contract offers to five of their six arbitration-eligible players. The exception, as expected, is second baseman Daniel Descalso, now a free agent. He joins a seventh such player, outfielder Shane Robinson, released two weeks ago.
The others, all of whom have between three and five years of Major League service time, are reliever Jordan Walden, starting pitcher Lance Lynn, outfielders Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos and catcher Tony Cruz. The five are assured of remaining with St. Louis next season, with the right to take the club to a salary arbitration hearing if the two sides cannot come to an agreeable 2015 contract amount by February.
Descalso, 28, first came up with the Cardinals in September 2010 and has not returned to the minors since. Normally a second baseman, the California native has also filled in at shortstop, third base, first base and even collected an out as an emergency pitcher this past season.
The Cards’ third-round draft pick in 2007 has a career line of .243/.313/.341/.654 in 529 Major League games. That includes a mediocre .184 average as a pinch-hitter (21-for-114) and a .501 OPS in that role. In 44 post-season games, Descalso batted .214.
Given the low level of offensive performance, especially off the bench, and the potential to earn as much as $1.5 million in 2015 meant Descalso had become expendable. He could be replaced by a minimum-salary player making a third of his expected salary.
Perhaps in anticipation of this move, the Cardinals recently signed free agent Dean Anna to a major league deal and acquired minor leaguer Ty Kelly in trade. Both are middle infielders with Anna batting left-handed like Descalso, while Kelly is a switch-hitter.
As a free agent now looking for a job for next season, Descalso joins Robinson along with earlier-filed Cardinals free agents Mark Ellis, Jason Motte, Justin Masterson, Pat Neshek and A.J. Pierzynski.
With a 40-man that now has three openings, the Cardinals have considerable roster flexibility should any other club’s non-tenders look interesting, for example. They could also make a move (or moves) in the December 8 Rule 5 Draft.
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