26 Cards Six-Year Minor League Free Agents

A majority of the Memphis roster can soon walk away via six-year minor league free agency along with seven other minor league veterans down in Double-A and Single-A. Is that all bad?

It comes the time at the completion of each season when a number of minor league players earn the right to taste free agency. While the term is called "six-year minor league free agency", actually a player can experience free agency only following the sixth renewed year of his minor league contract.

In other words, that means players who signed for the 2000 season are becoming free agents for the first time. Players originally signed prior to then could have the option of becoming a free agent at the conclusion of each subsequent season, hence adding weight to the term "minor league journeyman".

You will also note two free agents on the list below who signed their initial contract after 2000. They are free agent eligible because they were previously released by their original organization before the expiration of that initial six-year period.

When a previously-released player signs with a new club, the new club has the option to sign the player for as many years remaining before the expiration of the player's sixth renewable contract. That is the case with Ryan Barthelemy and Troy Cate.

None of this applies if the minor league player has been added to the organization's 40-man roster. So, catcher Mike Rose would have appeared on this list had he not been called up and added to the Cardinals' 40-man near the end of the season.

Before becoming too alarmed about the large number of eligible players, 26, note that only five of these players were originally drafted by the Cardinals. That small group includes Alan Benes and Bo Hart, both of whom returned to the Cardinals after having been released by other organizations.

Only three have been with the organization their entire careers to-date and just two are first-time free agents – Shaun Boyd and Dan Moylan. Gabe Johnson was previously a minor league free agent, but chose to re-sign with the Cardinals. He will now be faced with the same decision again.

The free agent group consists of 11 pitchers - eight right-handers and three lefties – along with four catchers, eight infielders and three outfielders. Nine of them have prior major league experience.

Two of the free agents ended on Palm Beach's roster (A-Advanced), while five more were with Springfield (Double-A). The remaining 19 were with Memphis (Triple-A).

Last  First  Pos Birth  B T 1st Signed MLB Debut 2006 Club*
Barthelemy Ryan 1B 5/19/1980 L R 6/10/02 (Phi)   Palm Beach
Benes Alan P 1/21/1972 R R 7/19/93 9/19/95 Memphis
Boyd Shaun OF 8/15/1981 R R 6/21/00   Memphis
Cate Troy P 10/21/1980 L L 6/16/02 (Sea)   Springfield
Cavazos Andy P 1/5/1981 R R 6/10/99 (Tex)   Memphis
Cotto Luis SS 7/9/1981 R R 6/12/00 (KC)   Palm Beach
Doyne Cory P 8/13/1981 R R 6/23/00 (Hou)   Memphis
Esposito Brian C 2/24/1979 R R 6/27/00 (Bos)   Memphis
Franco Iker C 5/5/1981 R R 2/22/98 (TB)   Springfield
Garcia Jose P 6/2/1981 R R 2/1/99 (NYY)   Springfield
Garrett Shawn OF 11/2/1978 S R 5/27/98 (SD)   Memphis
Hart Bo 2B 9/27/1976 R R 6/6/99 6/19/03 Memphis
Johnson Gabe C 9/21/1979 R R 6/7/98   Memphis
Leek Randy P 4/18/1977 L L 6/8/99 (Det)   Memphis
Martin Brian OF 6/14/1980 R R 6/3/98 (TB)   Memphis
Moylan Dan C 4/24/1979 L R 6/21/00   Springfield
Perisho Matt P 6/8/1975 L L 6/7/93 (Ana) 5/27/97 Memphis
Richardson Juan 3B 1/27/1979 R R 7/1/98 (Phi)   Springfield
Rodriguez Ricardo P 5/21/1978 L R 9/2/96 (LAD) 8/21/02 Memphis
Smith Travis P 11/7/1972 R R 6/4/95 (Mil) 6/21/98 Memphis
Spivey Junior 2B 1/28/1975 R R 6/14/96 (Ari) 6/2/01 Memphis
Tankersley Dennis P 2/24/1979 R R 5/18/99 (Bos) 5/10/02 Memphis
Toca Jorge 1B 1/7/1975 R R 9/7/98 (NYM) 9/12/99 Memphis
Washington Rico SS 5/30/1978 L R 6/12/97 (Pit)   Memphis
Wathan Derek 2B 12/13/1976 S R 6/8/98 (Fla)   Memphis
Webb John P 5/23/1979 R R 6/16/99 (ChC) 8/2/04 Memphis
* highest level played 

Following are some of these players the organization might miss the most next season, based on their 2006 results.

Top 2006 offensive standouts:
Home runs: Rico Washington – 18, Juan Richardson – 17.
Runs batted in: Richardson – 78, Washington – 76, Ryan Barthelemy – 68.
Stolen bases: Junior Spivey – 13, Shaun Boyd – 12.
Batting average: Jorge Toca - .329, Richardson - .311.
On-base percentage: Dan Moylan - .433, Washington - .393.
Slugging percentage: Toca - .548, Richardson - .500, Washington - .494.

Top 2006 pitching standouts:
Wins: John Webb – 6, Alan Benes, Jose Garcia, Travis Smith – 5.
Saves: Cory Doyne - 6, Andy Cavazos – 4.
Earned run average: Cate – 1.27, Cavazos – 2.71.
Strikeout to walk ratio: Cate – 4.4, Cavazos – 2.6, Jose Garcia – 2.5.
Walks and hits per inning pitched: Cate – 0.65, Cavazos – 1.06.
Batting average against: Cate – .127, Cavazos - .196, Doyne - .203.

You probably noted that the names of a few hitters and pitchers appear repeatedly. Though none are considered hot prospects at this stage, it seems like these few leaders would be good targets to try to re-sign to help fill out rosters short of high-flyers.

Assuming a majority of the Triple-A players do not return, combined with the fact that a crop of Springfield prospects look ready to move up, makes one point clear. The 2007 Memphis roster will look decidedly different from the disappointing 58-86 club of this past season.

All in all, that's not a bad thing.

Addendum: Several have asked about the specific dates involved in this process. Here they are, courtesy of our Scout.com partner Steve Holley from "Inside the Ivy".

"Rules state that a minor league player with expiring contract terms must be signed by 4 p.m. CDT on Oct. 15 in order to avoid free agency, if said player is not on his club's 40-man roster. A week later, on Oct. 22, teams may begin to sign those players who became free agents the previous week."

Steve also notes that clubs are already working on re-signing players they want to retain. In the upcoming days, I will check with the Cardinals on their progress in this area and of course, report back to our readers.

Footnote: 2006 hitters statistics

Last  First  Pos 2006 Club HR RBI SB BA  OBP SLG
Barthelemy Ryan 1B Palm Beach 14 68 1 0.270 0.349 0.454
Toca Jorge 1B Memphis 2 10 0 0.329 0.354 0.548
Hart Bo 2B Memphis 2 8 3 0.185 0.258 0.281
Spivey Junior 2B Memphis 9 29 13 0.200 0.347 0.351
Wathan Derek 2B Memphis 5 19 8 0.272 0.300 0.452
Richardson Juan 3B Springfield 17 78 0 0.311 0.382 0.500
Esposito Brian C Memphis 2 12 0 0.234 0.264 0.320
Franco Iker C Springfield 10 46 0 0.232 0.284 0.374
Johnson Gabe C Memphis 0 0 0 0.059 0.111 0.118
Johnson Gabe C Springfield 9 34 0 0.200 0.288 0.395
Moylan Dan C Springfield 1 4 0 0.310 0.420 0.397
Moylan Dan C Palm Beach 0 4 0 0.267 0.476 0.267
Boyd Shaun OF Memphis 1 12 4 0.188 0.283 0.241
Boyd Shaun OF Springfield 2 16 8 0.279 0.356 0.385
Garrett Shawn OF Memphis 3 24 1 0.221 0.250 0.371
Martin Brian OF Memphis 3 21 0 0.232 0.284 0.331
Martin Brian OF Springfield 4 18 0 0.293 0.401 0.466
Cotto Luis SS Palm Beach 0 4 0 0.185 0.264 0.231
Cotto Luis SS Quad Cities 0 14 6 0.265 0.369 0.331
Washington Rico SS Memphis 5 20 4 0.242 0.333 0.365
Washington Rico SS Springfield 13 56 4 0.323 0.444 0.616

Footnote: 2006 pitching statistics

Last First  Pos 2006 Club W SV ERA K/BB WHIP BAA
Benes Alan P Memphis 5 0 4.75 2.0 1.36 0.264
Cate Troy P Springfield 1 1 0.57 3.3 0.70 0.096
Cate Troy P Palm Beach 2 1 1.54 4.5 0.78 0.139
Cavazos Andy P Memphis 1 4 3.51 3.4 1.12 0.232
Cavazos Andy P Springfield 2 0 0.45 1.6 0.90 0.094
Doyne Cory P Memphis 0 0 0.00 1.0 1.20 0.188
Doyne Cory P Springfield 1 6 3.39 1.9 1.42 0.207
Garcia Jose P Springfield 0 0 1.35 1.3 1.65 0.269
Garcia Jose P Palm Beach 5 0 5.02 3.7 1.33 0.280
Leek Randy P Memphis 3 0 4.60 2.2 1.50 0.310
Perisho Matt P Memphis 2 1 5.28 2.2 1.67 0.299
Rodriguez Ricardo P Memphis 3 0 6.88 1.6 1.55 0.306
Smith Travis P Memphis 5 0 5.66 1.9 1.52 0.306
Tankersley Dennis P Memphis 4 0 4.35 2.1 1.39 0.271
Webb John P Memphis 6 0 4.18 2.0 1.46 0.289




Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

© 2006 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories