With the departures of Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos from the 2015 team, the St. Louis Cardinals lost significant outfield depth in the upper levels of the system. The club partially addressed the need with the signing of free agent outfielder Carlos Peguero to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp. The move was announced by the team via Twitter on Friday morning.
Peguero, 28, was originally signed by Seattle in 2005. Having first reached the majors with the Mariners in 2011, the left-handed hitter has yet to spend an entire season in the bigs, with just 319 plate appearances over the last five years and the majority of the time spent in Triple-A.
The native of the Dominican Republic has played briefly for four different MLB teams in the last three seasons – most recently Kansas City in 2014 and both Texas and Boston in 2015. Over his career, Peguero’s contract was sold twice before he became a free agent for the second time in November.
A big man at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Peguero has always been known for two things – raw power and high strikeout totals - and was once a top 30 prospect in the Seattle system (BA, 2011). In recent years, however, he has shown an inability to translate that power from Triple-A to the majors, while the strikeouts increased.
Beware of one thing. Peguero will look exceptionally good in March, having been a consistent spring training MVP over his career.
Reporting to camp each year with no job in hand, Peguero knows what to do - feast on spring training fastballs. Over his six Cactus League stints with Seattle, Kansas City and Texas totaling 189 at-bats, he batted .302 while slamming 13 home runs and driving in 35. Peguero’s career spring slugging percentage is a lusty .561.
In the regular season, most of the news has been bad. While Peguero has almost the same number of hits, home runs and RBI as he accumulated over his springs, it took him 100 more at-bats to accrue those counting stats. As a result, his career line is a meager .194/.263/.384/.647.
Adding to Peguero’s limitations is a colossal career MLB strikeout rate of 39.5 percent against a 7.5 percent walk mark.
As a minor leaguer, Peguero has been productive, however. With the most recent five of his 10 seasons having been spent primarily in Triple-A, he knows the level well, having blasted 19 long balls in 2013 and 30 the year after. His career Triple-A line is .276/.345/.528/.873.
Peguero’s value is in his bat, having primarily been a left fielder in the majors with some exposure to right.
With the addition of Peguero, the Cardinals will now have eight outfielders in major league camp. Six are on the 40-man roster in projected starters Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty plus reserve Tommy Pham and minor leaguers Anthony Garcia and Charlie Tilson. Along with Peguero, Jeremy Hazelbaker is a non-roster invitee.
Most likely, Peguero will serve as Triple-A depth at Memphis in 2016. However, it is worth noting that he has no minor league options remaining, so if he is needed in St. Louis, he would have to clear waivers to be sent back down and could instead opt for free agency.
For more roster detail
Remember that to see the entire Cardinals system from the Dominican Summer League to St. Louis in one graphical view with all camp invitees, transactions, free agents and more, check out the Roster Matrix, kept updated at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
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