Cards Sign Randy Keisler to Split Contract

Former top Yankees prospect – turned minor league journeyman left-hander to make bid to join 2007 St. Louis Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed left-handed reliever Randy Keisler to a one-year split contract that pays him $425,000 as a major leaguer and $110,000 if he ends up in Memphis.

When initially drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees in 1998, Keisler was considered a top prospect. Just two years later, the then-24 year old made his major league debut during a season in which he was named the Yankees Minor League Player of the year. Keisler started ten games for the 2001 Yanks before missing the entire 2002 season due to an arm injury. He was released during 2003 Spring Training.

Keisler quickly signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres, where he lasted a few months, appearing in just two games at the major league level. Later in the 2003 season, he was signed and released in succession by the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, not making an MLB appearance for either.

In 2004, Keisler joined the New York Mets, where he was back in Triple-A, then the Cincinnati Reds for 2005, being released each fall. After battling a sore elbow during 2005, he started against the Cardinals that September, allowing five unearned runs in five innings. Overall, Keisler posted a 6.27 ERA in 56 innings with the Reds in 2005.

Keisler then signed on with the Oakland A's for 2006, where he was on the Sacramento shuttle before being designated for assignment in early August. He logged a 4.50 ERA in 10 frames for the A's this past season. With Sacramento, Keisler held lefties to a .215 batting average, but in Oakland, it was a different story - .353.

Overall, Keisler has pitched just 133 big-league innings with a 6.82 ERA. He struck out 95, but walked an alarming 79 opposing hitters. His career minor league strikeout to walk ratio is only slightly better at 706 to 332.

Walton's take: Here we seem to have the longest of longshots to make the 2007 Cardinals. But, maybe Dave Duncan remembered that September, 2005 outing or as one scout suggested to me, perhaps Duncan thinks Keisler can become another Tony Fossas. My thought was Bill Pulsipher, but he actually did make it for a few weeks, didn't he?

Hey, you can never have too many lefties, right? With Randy Flores, Tyler Johnson, a returning-from-injury Ricardo Rincon and an emerging Chris Narveson, the Cardinals may have been considering using some of their left-handed relief surplus as trade bait even before this most nondescript signing.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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