FOX Sports Midwest

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of December 21-27, 2015

A new member of the starting rotation is added. A long time Cardinals beat writer turned sports columnist passes away. The Cardinals add minor league depth at first base.

Leake becomes the newest Cardinal

In an effort to bolster the oft-injured starting rotation, the St. Louis Cardinals added a durable innings eater to the rotation for 2016 through 2020.  On Tuesday, December 22, the Cardinals announced the signing of 28 year-old starting pitcher Mike Leake to a five-year contract worth $80 million dollars plus a mutual option for 2021.  Leake pitched five and a half seasons in the rotation of NL Central rival Cincinnati Reds before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in a mid-season deal in 2015.  

Leake, a right-hander, comes to the Cardinals with a career 64-52 record and a 3.88 ERA.  He has averaged 200 innings over his most recent three seasons, and should provide the Cardinals with a durable starter in a rotation that has seen more than its share of injuries over the last few years. 

Leake will replace starter Lance Lynn, who is out for the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November.  Leake joins a rotation that is expected to include Adam Wainwright, who missed most of the 2015 season with an Achilles tendon injury, Michael Wacha, who missed time in 2014 with a scapular stress fracture, Jaime Garcia, who hasn’t pitched a full season since 2011, and Carlos Martinez, who is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury he sustained at the end of the 2015 season.

Behind Leake to provide additional depth is Tim Cooney, Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons, all left-handers who will either start the 2016 season at Triple-A Memphis or join the Cardinals’ bullpen.

Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss passes away

Joe Strauss, Cardinals beat writer turned columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, passed away early Sunday morning, Dec. 27, from complications of leukemia.  Strauss was 54 years old and leaves a surviving wife, Diana, and daughter, Alexis.

Strauss joined the Post-Dispatch in 2002, after previous work at the Baltimore Sun, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Columbus Ledger Inquirer, and the Gwinnett Daily News.  Strauss was a native of Richmond, VA and was a 1983 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Strauss became a columnist at the Post-Dispatch in 2012 after ten years as a beat writer covering the Cardinals.  The acerbic writer had a reputation of being tough and tenacious at his job, but controversial on social media, especially with fans. 

Strauss was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after the death of colleague Bryan Burwell in Dec. 2014 from cancer.

Cardinals add minor league depth at 1B

The Cardinals have reportedly made another minor league free agent signing to add depth at the first base position. Chris Jacobs is a 27-year-old first baseman originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as their 17th round selection in the 2007 draft.  Jacobs has spent most of his minor league career in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but did play in 15 games in 2015 for the Charlotte Knights of the International League, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  Jacobs also spent 2015 as part of the White Sox Double-A and High-A clubs in Birmingham, AL and Winston-Salem NC.

Jacobs has a career minor league slash line of .266/.361/.456/ but hit only .224/.321/.367 in his short stint in Triple-A.  The Cardinals have yet to assign Jacobs to a minor league club.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted that the Cardinals have engaged in trade dialogue with the Colorado Rockies concerning outfielders, specifically mentioning Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson as potentially available outfielders.  There has been no follow up or further specifics as to whether a trade is close or even likely.

Transactions

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent RHP Mike Leake.

Injury Report

There is no new injury news to report.

Looking Ahead

The closest date of importance on the horizon is still the January 12 deadline for filing for arbitration by eligible players.  As reported here previously, the Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players with whom the team must reach agreement with on a 2016 salary or have the contract amount determined in arbitration.  The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999.  The arbitration eligible players are Brandon Moss, Matt Adams, Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness

The possibility remains that the Cardinals will add additional offense to the 2016 roster, though no deals or trades are known to be in the works.  The addition of Leake to the rotation most likely ends the Cardinals’ search for starting pitching, though the addition of pitching to the bullpen remains a possibility.

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