General Managers Meetings bring insight into the 2017 roster
The annual General Managers Meetings took place this past week in Arizona, and John Mozeliak revealed some of his thoughts pertaining to the look of the 2017 roster. He indicated the 2016 team had a lot of moving parts, and he is looking to bring more stability to the 2017 roster.
Mozeliak told reporters that the team intends to move Matt Carpenter to first base for 2017. The GM stated Carpenter has already been informed to enable him to use the offseason to prepare.
In addition to stabilizing first base, Mozeliak has signaled a recommitment to Kolten Wong at second base, and a possible move to left field for Randal Grichuk. The shift of Grichuk will depend on whether a defensive upgrade for center field can be found.
Also on the horizon are some possible additions to the bullpen, in the wake of the loss of Zach Duke for the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, and a health setback to Tyler Lyons. Bullpen additions could come internally, or they could look outside the organization.
A different role for former closer Trevor Rosenthal is also under consideration. Mozeliak indicated Rosenthal will be “stretched out” in spring training for a possible move to a starter role or long man in the bullpen.
Cardinals miss out on major awards
The 2016 Gold Glove Award winners were announced this past week, and both Cardinals’ finalists, pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, failed to win.
The news breaks a streak of eight consecutive Gold Gloves for the veteran catcher. Though Molina was one of three finalists, the award went to Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Molina had a down defensive year in 2016, so the loss should not be a surprise. Molina’s caught stealing percentage for 2016 was a career low 21% and he finished the season with -1 Defensive Runs Saved, again a career low. Molina also had a career high eight passed balls in 2016.
The 34-year old catcher continues to catch more innings than any other player in baseball, a fact that may have contributed to his defensive decline, in addition to the aging factor.
Wainwright fell short as well, losing the award to Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke. Had Wainwright won, it would have been his third Gold Glove.
This marks first time since 2007 that the Cardinals did not have at least one Gold Glove Award winner.
The Cardinals also did not have any 2017 Silver Slugger Award winners, voted to the top hitters at each position in both leagues by MLB managers and coaches. St. Louis’ most recent winners were Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter in 2013.
Finally, St. Louis was passed over in the announcements of the “finalists” (top three finishers) in the annual Baseball Writers Association of America voting categories. They include Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year by league. Winners will be announced this week.
Another addition to the 40-man roster
The Cardinals made another addition to the 40-man roster this past week, infielder Breyvic Valera. Valera was eligible for minor league free agency pursuant to MLB Rule 55, and the move was made to prevent his departure.
The 24-year old was signed out of Venezuela in 2010 and opened the 2016 season at Double-A Springfield before being promoted to Triple-A Memphis for the first time. Valera slashed .304/.363/.362 in 125 combined Double-A and Triple-A games in 2016.
Valera played most at second base, but he has the versatility to play other positions. Valera has had starts at six different positions during his minor league career, including shortstop and left field.
The addition of Valera brings the total on the 40-man roster to 37 players. More additions to the roster are to be expected before November 18, in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft to be held on December 8.
Leveque candidate in Baltimore
According to a report from MASN, the Orioles’ television network, Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque is one of a group of candidates to become Baltimore’s new major league pitching coach. The 36-year-old, who been in his current job for three years, is not considered a front-runner to replace Dave Wallace with the O’s.
2017 Spring Training schedule announced
February 18 will mark the first spring training full squad workout for the Cardinals in preparation for the 2017 season. Pitchers and catchers will report on February 14. The team will begin its 32-game spring training schedule on February 25 with a game against the Miami Marlins. The tentative spring training schedule can be found here.
The Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros will be moving into their new West Palm Beach facility in the spring, and the addition of those two clubs in closer proximity to Roger Dean Stadium will lessen the amount of road travel for the Cardinals in spring training.
The Cardinals will play 16 games at their Jupiter facility, including seven against the Miami Marlins, who share the facility with the Cardinals. Tickets for Jupiter games will go on sale on January 7 at 9 a.m. CT. Those tickets may be purchased at Cardinals.com or in person at Roger Dean Stadium.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Two former MLB GMs turned media personalities have speculated about whom the Cardinals are likely to pursue this offseason. Jim Bowden reportedly indicated on MLB Network Radio that he believes the Cardinals are committed to signing outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Jim Duquette, on the other hand, thinks the Texas Rangers will sign Fowler, and further guesses that the Cardinals will sign outfielder Josh Reddick.
The Cardinals selected the contract of Breyvic Valera from the Memphis Redbirds. The infielder was due to become a minor league free agent if not added to the 40 man roster.
The Cardinals signed first baseman-outfielder Chad Huffman to a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation to MLB spring training camp. Before two seasons in Japan, Huffman played for the 2013 Memphis Redbirds.
The first of St. Louis' four Major League free agents has signed for 2017. Jordan Walden is returning to the Atlanta Braves on a minor league contract. The reliever did not pitch last season due to injury. Other 2016 Cardinals looking for new homes are Matt Holliday, Jerome Williams and Brandon Moss.
LHP Tyler Lyons (right knee stress reaction) underwent surgery on his knee on Tuesday, November 8. The surgery grafted healthy cartilage into the knee. Lyons is expected to be out 5-6 months due to the surgery, which will prevent Lyons from participating in Spring Training.
Zach Duke’s injury and the questionable status of Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney leave the Cardinals with only one clear left-hander in the pen – Kevin Siegrist.
With the Hot Stove season fully underway, the Cardinals will be looking to make deals to improve the 2017 roster, with emphasis on improving defense and speed/athleticism, according to GM John Mozeliak. Trades will be the most likely avenue for improvement, as the free agent market for 2017 is thin.
As reserve rosters for the Rule 5 Draft must be finalized and submitted to the Commissioner’s office by November 18, expect additional movement onto and off the 40-man roster by then. The Cardinals have already made additions to the roster, most recently infielder Breyvic Valera. Depending on how many the Cardinals choose to protect, there will likely be further subtractions from the roster as well.
Decisions on contracts for six arbitration eligible players will need to be made by December 2. Expect announcements regarding those players within the coming weeks, with all expected to return for 2017 (Matt Adams, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez).
Preliminary discussions with regard to offseason acquisitions often take place at the just-completed GM Meetings. The Winter Meetings are next up, scheduled for December 5-8 in Washington D.C. Those meetings are the centerpiece of the Hot Stove season. Look for the Cardinals to make some acquisitions during those meetings, if not before.
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