Five signed to minor league deals
The Cardinals inked three players to minor league deals this past week, all with invitations to major league Spring Training and two others to straight minor league contracts.
One of the former group, catcher Eric Fryer, has already worn the Birds on the Bat. Fryer was first signed by the Cardinals in November of 2015, and played 24 games behind the plate for the Cardinals when Brayan Pena went down with a knee injury early in the season. Fryer was selected off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates in July, and finished the season there.
Also signed was Jordan Schafer, who spent parts of six seasons with the Braves, Astros, and Twins. Schafer, 30, switched positions from outfielder to pitcher last season, and was signed by the Cardinals as a left handed pitcher. In 40 minor league appearances on the mound, Schafer was 1-3 with an ERA of 3.38.
Also signed and invited to big league camp is catcher Gabriel Lino. The 23 year old backstop spent 2010-2016 with the Phillies and Orioles organizations. Lino has a career minor league slash line of .230/.303/.341, and has a caught stealing percentage of 33%.
Further details on the five new Cardinals can be found here.
Oquendo to serve as special assistant to the GM
Long time Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo's new role has been formalized. Oquendo missed the entire 2016 season due to knee surgery, and will not return to the MLB staff. Instead, Oquendo has been named as a special assistant to GM John Mozeliak, and will continue his new duties at the Cardinals’ facility in Jupiter, Florida. The former MLB infielder will be instructing minor league players, as well as any major league players who desire to work with Oquendo in the offseason.
The Cardinals are especially eager for Oquendo to continue his work with Puerto Rican shortstop Delvin Perez, selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2016 draft. The exclusive photo above shows the two during fall instructional league camp. Oquendo may also travel to the Dominican Republic academy periodically to help with instruction there.
Oquendo has fully recovered from his knee surgery, and will likely be seen and have a presence at Spring Training in February and March.
Kelly and Weaver named top minor leaguers
On Thursday, the Cardinals announced the organization's 2016 Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, honoring catcher Carson Kelly and right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver. Kelly and Weaver made their Major League debuts in 2016 and will be honored at the Baseball Writers' Dinner on January 15th.
Earlier, The Cardinal Nation also named Weaver our Starting Pitcher of the Year, but our choice for Player of the Year was Peoria's Eliezer Alvarez. MLB Pipeline had recognized Weaver and outfielder Harrison Bader as their top Cardinals minor leaguers in 2016.
More details on St. Louis' announcement can be found here.
Phase 2 of Ballpark Village approved
On Friday, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved plans for Phase 2 of the Ballpark Village development. Construction on Phase 2 is set to begin around the end of the 2017 baseball season and will take about 18 months to complete.
Included in the planned construction is a residential apartment tower, a Class A office building and additional retail and entertainment venues. Total cost of the construction is estimated at $220 million dollars. Additional parking is also included in the construction.
A portion of new tax revenue from the additions to Ballpark Village will be used to underwrite the bonds issued to support the project. The approval bill also allows Ballpark Village to implement an on-site 1% sales tax. The remainder of the construction cost will be financed by the development team.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Along the lines of the earlier departure of Jaime Garcia to Atlanta, the Cardinals could also deal away veteran first baseman Matt Adams if a mutually-beneficial trade could be found. With Matt Carpenter named the new first baseman, Adams would be a reserve in 2017. Adams is among the Cardinals’ five arbitration-eligible players and is in line for a salary increase.
Media speculation has linked the Cardinals with free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo, however there have been no indications the team is seriously considering either.
With the free agent signings of left handed reliever Brett Cecil, outfielder Dexter Fowler, and minor league deals with two catchers, two pitchers, and infielder, it is likely the Cardinals have finished their off-season roster additions.
Mozeliak has not closed the door to any additional acquisitions, but feels comfortable going into Spring Training with the roster as it is currently constructed. Perhaps a left handed-hitting outfielder to complement Tommy Pham as a backup option is something Mozeliak has stated could be added. Any other major additions would likely only come if there is an unexpected opportunity.
The Cardinals signed five free agents: catchers Eric Fryer and Gabriel Lino, LHPs Jordan Schafer and Daniel Schlereth and 2B Dickie Thon to minor league contracts. Fryer, Lino, and Schafer have been invited to major league Spring Training camp.
There is no injury news to report.
Coming in mid-January is the deadline for salary amounts to be exchanged between the Cardinals and five arbitration eligible players - Matt Adams, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Kevin Siegrist, and Trevor Rosenthal. It is expected that deals will be stuck with all five without the necessity of going to arbitration hearings.
Also coming up in January is the Cardinals annual Winter Warm-Up, scheduled for January 14-16, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch. Passes are on sale now, and can be purchased here. Autograph tickets will go on sale on January 4. As always, The Cardinal Nation will be there and offer our reports on the action.
Spring Training begins in mid-February, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report on February 14, and position players on February 17. The first spring training game is scheduled for February 25 against the Miami Marlins.
The full Spring Training schedule can be found here.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Winter Ball Pitchers Report: 2016 Week 7
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