On Saturday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced a trade, sending left-handed relief pitcher Sam Freeman to the Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Freeman, 27, was the 32nd round draft selection by the Cardinals in 2008. The native Texan appeared in 81 games for St. Louis, including a career-high 44 in 2014. His career ERA is 3.33 to go with 61 strikeouts and 34 walks in 70 1/3 major league-innings.
This spring, Freeman allowed three runs, two earned, in five innings of work on four hits and five walks. The latter was an ongoing concern. He struck out three.
This move was based on numbers - but more on roster size than performance.
With Freeman having exhausted his minor league options, he either had to make the Cardinals or be exposed to irrevocable waivers before he could return to Triple-A. Given his prior success, Freeman would have almost certainly been claimed.
Instead, the Cardinals made a preemptive move to get something in return by trading Freeman. In order to build the confidence to make a deal, the club likely wanted to evaluate Kevin Siegrist in spring action first. Siegrist, a sensation in 2013, struggled with injury and ineffectiveness in 2014.
With this move, it seems clear that Siegrist will join veteran Randy Choate as the two left-handers in the Cardinals’ season-opening bullpen. Other Triple-A left-handers on the organization’s 40-man roster are Tyler Lyons and Nick Greenwood along with non-roster top prospect Tim Cooney.
Early in the off-season, there were rumors the Cards might try to deal Choate, but his contract, in which the 39-year-old is due $3 million this season, could have been an inhibitor. More recently, club officials have discussed limiting Choate’s appearances to ones in which he can face left-handed hitters, his strength.
Typically in player to be named situations, the clubs agree on a list of players from which one must be selected within six months. Otherwise, an undisclosed amount of cash could change hands.
This move lowers the number of players on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster to 38. 31 of them remain in big-league camp, along with six non-roster invitees, for a camp total of 37 players. I expect further cuts to come in the next few days as the club slims down toward its opening day group of 25 players.
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