Heyward becomes a Cub
The St. Louis Cardinals suffered a blow this past week when free agent outfielder Jason Heyward, the team’s right fielder in 2015, rejected their offer to re-sign with the club, and instead decided to join the Cardinals’ long-time rival, the Chicago Cubs. Heyward, who was acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, accepted a reported eight-year, $184 million dollar contract that reportedly contains opt out clauses after years three and four. The details of the Cardinals’ offer to Heyward is unknown, but was reported to be for 10 years, $200 million dollars, which is greater in total value, but less in average annual value, compared the Cubs’ winning bid.
If the reported size of the Cardinals’ offer is correct, it would have been the highest contract ever given out by the team in total value. Heyward won his third Gold Glove Award in 2015 and in terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), was the 11th most valuable player in MLB in 2015. Heyward slashed .293/.359/.439 for the Cardinals in 2015 and was a key component of their 100 win, NL Central Division Champion team. Heyward follows former Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey in signing with the Cubs this off-season.
In the wake of Heyward’s departure, the Cardinals were reported to be looking at other free agent outfielders. Outfielders still on the market include Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes. The Cardinals do have on their roster four players capable of playing right field - Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty and Brandon Moss. Grichuk will be the starter in center field, while Moss is likely to get starts at first base along with Matt Adams.
The Cardinals will receive two supplemental round picks in the 2016 draft as compensation for losing Heyward and Lackey, while the Cubs will lose their first and second-round draft picks for signing both players.
Jay traded for Gyorko
The Cardinals are down an outfielder as a result of the trade this past week of Jon Jay to the San Diego Padres for utility infielder Jedd Gyorko. Jay, who was St. Louis’ second round draft pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made his Major League debut on April 26, 2010. Jay took over the starting job in center field subsequent to the trade of Colby Rasmus in July 2011. Jay was the last remaining member of the nicknamed “Memphis Mafia” still with the team, a group that included now former Cardinals David Freese, Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso.
Jay underwent wrist surgery after the 2014 season, and had a disappointing 2015 season at the plate, slashing .210/.306/.257 in 245 plate appearances with the Cardinals in 2015. Jay spent 79 days on the DL in two separate trips in 2015, and rotated innings in center field, right field, and left field during his active days on the roster.
Gyorko, was the second round draft pick of the Padres in the 2010 draft and debuted in the major leagues in 2013. The right-handed hitter slashed .247/.297/.397 in 2015 with the Padres and was primarily a second baseman. Gyorko has also played shortstop, third base, and one inning at first base in his major league career. The 27-year-old has some power, as evidenced by his 16 home runs in 458 plate appearances in 2015. Gyorko is expected to be the backup at second base, third base, and perhaps shortstop, to replace infielder Pete Kozma, who was outrighted off the roster this fall, and subsequently signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals have inked reliever Jonathan Broxton to a two year deal, reportedly for $7.5 million dollars. Broxton came to the Cardinals mid-season 2015 in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in which the Cardinals sent the Brewers minor league outfielder Malik Collymore. Broxton had a $9 million dollar 2016 option remaining on his contract, an option the Cardinals declined to exercise.
Broxton ended the season with an ERA of 2.66 in 23 2/3 innings pitched out of St. Louis’ bullpen. The 31 year old has been in the major leagues since 2005, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2002 draft. In addition to the Dodgers, the Brewers, and the Cardinals, Broxton has pitched for the Royals and the Reds.
Cishek joins the Mariners
Steve Cishek, who pitched out of the bullpen for the Cardinals in the second half of the season, but was not tendered a contract for the 2016 season, has found a home in Seattle. The Mariners signed Cishek this past week to a deal reportedly worth $10 million dollars for two years plus $7 million in incentives, to serve as their closer.
Cishek was traded to the Cardinals in July 2015 by the Miami Marlins in return for minor league reliever Kyle Barraclough. Cishek pitched 23 1/3 innings in relief for the Cardinals in the second half of 2015, and had an ERA of 2.31.
Eight lost and three added in the Rule 5 Draft
The 2015 Rule 5 Draft was held on Thursday, Dec. 10, the final day of the Winter Meetings. The event occurs every December and is designed to prevent teams from stockpiling young players in their minor league systems. The Rule 5 draft was instituted in 1959, and has continued to the present day. The draft is named for its place in the Major League Rules, and is distinguished from the first year player draft that occurs every June, also known as the Rule 4 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft has three phases, a major league phase, a Triple-A and a Double-A phase.
In the major league phase of the draft, the Colorado Rockies selected Cardinals minor league pitcher Luis Perdomo with the fourth overall pick. Perdomo was the Cardinals representative in the 2015 MLB Futures Game, which is held every year during the All-Star Week festivities.
Perdomo was an international signing by the Cardinals, and pitched in 2015 for the Low-A Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, and the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League. The Rockies must keep Perdomo on their 25 man active roster for the entire 2016 season or risk losing him to waivers or returning him to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals in turn selected Mets minor league pitcher Matt Bowman in the major league portion of the draft. Bowman pitched in 2015 for the Mets’ Triple-A club in Las Vegas, but had a disappointing year, pitching to a record of 7-16 with a 5.53 ERA. Like Perdomo with the Rockies, Bowman will have to remain on the Cardinals’ 25 man roster the entire 2016 season or be lost.
In the Triple-A and Double-A phases of the draft, the Cardinals lost seven additional players. Pitchers Jhonny Polanco and Cory Jones were taken in the first round of the Triple-A phase, pitcher Kender Villegas, shortstop Robelys Reyes, and outfielder Mike O'Neill were selected in the second round, and pitcher Fernando Baez was taken in the third round. In the Double-A phase, the Cardinals lost the only player moving, reliever Juan Caballero.
Unlike the major league phase of the draft, the seven players lost do not come with the possibility of return to the Cardinals. They are gone for good.
Cardinals add two and re-sign one minor leaguer
The Cardinals picked up left handed pitcher Jayson Aquino off waivers from the Cleveland Indians this past week. Aquino is required to be added to the Cardinals’ 40 man roster. Aquino is well traveled, having been with five organizations in his six year minor league career. Aquino ended 2015 in Cleveland’s High-A team in Lynchburg, VA.
Another new Cardinal is right handed pitcher J.C. Sulbaran, a minor league free agent who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and pitched for the Kansas City Royals Triple-A club in Omaha, NE in 2015. Sulbaran has a career minor league record of 33-55 and an ERA of 4.79.
St. Louis re-signed outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker to a minor league contract. The 28 year old had joined the Cardinals in May 2015 after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization. Hazelbaker played well for the Memphis Redbirds, slashing .333/.403/.594 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI in 58 games.
The Arizona Fall League revealed its selections for its 2015 Top Prospects team this past week. The Top Prospects Team recognizes those players who distinguished themselves with their performance during the league’s six week long season. The selection is made by managers and coaches and is based both on performance and projectability.
One Cardinal was selected, Patrick Wisdom, third baseman for Double-A Springfield in 2015. Wisdom slashed .237/.268/.452 with four home runs and 21 RBI for the Surprise Saguaros of the AFL. Wisdom joined Cardinals Aledmys Diaz, Michael Ohlman, Charlie Tilson, and pitchers Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Dean Kiekhefer and Robby Rowland on the roster of the Saguaros.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted shortly after the Heyward signing was announced that the Cardinals, having missed out on Heyward, would now “aggressively pursue” OF Alex Gordon. However, KMOX Sports tweeted several days later that Mozeliak stated in an interview that, “Just to chase an OF now is something we won’t do”. Mozeliak further told KMOX Sports that his “focus will now be at how we continue to ramp up pitching”.
San Diego Padres traded 2B Jedd Gyorko and cash to St. Louis Cardinals for CF Jon Jay
St. Louis Cardinals claimed LHP Jayson Aquino off waivers from Cleveland Indians.
St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent RHP Jonathan Broxton.
Colorado Rockies selected RHP Luis Perdomo in the Rule 5 draft from St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals selected RHP Matt Bowman in the Rule 5 draft from New York Mets
There is no new injury news to report.
The Hot Stove season continues with the Cardinals looking to add a starting pitcher to the 2016 roster. The club may or may not want to add an outfielder in the wake of not signing Heyward.
There are no important dates on the MLB calendar coming up until the New Year, when arbitration filing deadlines occur in January. Teams may settle contracts with arbitration eligible players any time before or after the arbitration filing deadline, up until the date of any scheduled arbitration hearing. The Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players in Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Brandon Moss and Matt Adams.
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