Cardinal Nation received the news this past week that starting pitcher Lance Lynn had Tommy John surgery and will miss the entirety of the 2016 season. The 28 year-old right-hander was 12-11 with a 3.03 ERA in 2015. Lynn spent 17 days on the DL in June for a right forearm strain, but pitched the remainder of the season, maintaining a 3.00 ERA following the injury. While there were games when Lynn clearly struggled post injury, the news that he required major surgery was surprising to many.
Also this past week, MLB announced that St. Louis’ top pitching prospect Alex Reyes was suspended for 50 games under the MLB Joint Drug Agreement for testing positive for marijuana. The failed test was the second one for Reyes, who was pulled from the Arizona Fall League several days prior to the announcement of the suspension. The penalty will be served through the remainder of the AFL season and into the 2016 regular season. Reyes will be allowed to join the Cardinals for Spring Training but will not be eligible to pitch in any regular season games until the suspension is served.
In better news for Cardinals fans, outfielder Jason Heyward and catcher Yadier Molina were announced as Gold Glove Award winners for their defensive performance in 2015 at their positions. The Gold Glove Awards are voted on by MLB managers and coaches along with a sabermetric scoring component and the winners are announced annually at the end of the season. Molina went on to win his fourth Rawlings Platinum Glove as the best overall defensive player in the National League for 2015. The Platinum Glove is awarded on the basis of a fan vote.
In addition, Heyward was the recipient of the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award for right field, an annual award that was established in 2012. This is the second Wilson award for Heyward for right field, and Heyward won the Wilson award for best overall defensive player as well in 2014 when Heyward was with the Braves.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is one of three nominees for the National League Manager of the Year Award, along with fellow managers Joe Maddon of the Cubs and Terry Collins of the Mets. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. CST on MLB Network.
As expected, Heyward and pitcher John Lackey declined the qualifying offers made to them by the Cardinals. The offer was valued at 15.8 million dollars for one year. Both Heyward and Lackey are now free to sign contracts with any MLB team for the 2016 season and beyond. The Cardinals will receive a compensation draft pick next June if they sign with another club.
The ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 were released this past week. Appearing for the first time on the ballot are former Cardinals Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein. The two join former Cardinals Mark McGwire and Lee Smith returning on the ballot. This is McGwire’s final year on the ballot, and Smith will appear one additional year.
In a bit of distressing news, former Cardinal and Hall of Famer Lou Brock had surgery to amputate his left leg below the knee. Brock had been hospitalized for several weeks, and the surgery was as a result of an infection related to diabetes that had developed in Brock’s left leg. Brock is recovering well and is expected to be fitted with a prosthetic in the near future. Brock, who came to St. Louis in the now infamous trade with the Cubs for Ernie Broglio, played 16 seasons with the Cardinals.
As reported here last week, the Cardinals submitted a bid for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park. It was announced on Monday, Nov. 9 that the Minnesota Twins had submitted the winning bid, gaining the right to negotiate exclusively with Park for a contract to play with the Twins.
The Cardinals reached agreements with two minor league free agents this past week. Catcher Eric Fryer and right handed pitcher Juan Gonzalez were signed to minor league deals with invites to Major League Spring Training. Fryer was previously with the Minnesota Twins organization and had a slash line of .227/.370/.318 in 15 games with the big league club in 2015. Fryer is a native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, the hometown of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Gonzalez pitched 33 innings in relief for the Dodgers Triple-A club in Oklahoma City in 2015, where the native of Venezuela went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 12 saves.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
It was reported by Bob Elliiott of the Toronto Sun that free agent pitcher and former Blue Jay Mark Buehrle has indicated that he will either retire or pitch in 2016 only for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. Buehrle is a native of St. Charles and a graduate of Francis Howell High School. There has been no indication of discussions with Buehrle by the Cardinals.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Cardinals have interest in free agent utility player Ben Zobrist. Zobrist was traded at the deadline from Oakland to Kansas City, and was a key contributor to the Royals’ World Series win. Zobrist slashed .284/.364/.453 with the Royals.
Rumors swirled on the internet that the Atlanta Braves had discussed the availability of first baseman Freddie Freeman with at least one team. The Cardinals were briefly linked to this rumor, but Atlanta sportscaster and writer Bill Shanks posted on twitter that the rumor was not true.
On Sunday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal repeated the rumor that Freeman had been shopped, which was denied by Atlanta GM John Coppolella through Braves beat writer David O’Brien.
The Cardinals signed free agent catcher Eric Fryer and free agent RHP Juan Gonzalez to minor league contracts.
There is no injury news to report.
This coming week is Awards week, when the major awards are scheduled to be given out. These include Rookie of the Year on Nov. 16, Manager of the Year on Nov. 17, Cy Young Award on Nov. 18, and MVP on Nov. 19. Matheny is a nominee for the Manager of the Year.
The Esurance Awards are to be given out on Nov. 20. Cardinals in contention are Randal Grichuk for Best Rookie, Molina for Best Defensive Player, Carlos Martinez for Best Breakout Player, Jaime Garcia for Best Bounceback Player, Matheny for Best Manager, and John Mozeliak for Best Executive. In the non-organizational category, model Karlie Kloss is a nominee for Best Celebrity Fan.
The second full week of Hot Stove season begins with the Cardinals continuing to look to sign Jason Heyward, and seeking to fill needs on the roster, including possibly a starting pitcher, a middle infielder and a first baseman.
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