Cody Haerther Speaks on Return to Cardinals

The Cardinals outfielder as well as his general manager and minor league director speak with Brian Walton following the surprising news of the player's return, just four days after he was claimed by Toronto via waivers.

In an odd a set of transactions as one might ever imagine, outfielder Cody Haerther went through the rollercoaster of emotions of leaving two different organizations in less than a week, only to end up right back where he started – with the St. Louis Cardinals, as a member of their 40-man roster.

Haerther, 24, was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays last Friday off waivers as the Cardinals apparently tried to sneak him through. Their goal seems to have been to free up space on their 40-man roster with the hope that Haerther would not be claimed and he could continue to play for them, likely starting with Triple-A Memphis in 2008.

If so, the Cards accomplished their first objective, but not their second. Once Toronto claimed him, Haerther immediately joined their 40-man roster. The Jays seemed properly happy about their new acquisition and at that point, the story seemed to be over. However, on Monday, Haerther's apple cart was tipped over once again.

After just two days on their 40-man, Haerther was designated for assignment by the Jays, in order to make room for another player. He was again placed on waivers, with a tense 48-hour period ending on Wednesday at 1:00 P.M. when his agent received a call informing him that the Cardinals had exercised their right to reclaim Haerther.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak explains. "We tried to get him (Haerther) through but he was claimed. We had five players to add to the roster and we were simply exhausting all our roster management options," Mozeliak said. (The GM is referring to the players the Cardinals added Tuesday in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft on December 6.)

In making this move to reclaim Haerther, I have to give the Cardinals a lot of credit. It would have been easier for the organization to pass on him, sticking to their guns that the player was no longer needed as much as the roster spot. Instead, by claiming him, they tacitly acknowledged their original gamble backfired, most importantly not missing the chance to correct it. Most admirable.

I reached an excited, but mildly confused Haerther on Wednesday afternoon, his family's preparations for Thanksgiving somewhat disrupted by the news.

"I can't tell you the amount of emotions I have felt over the last four days… I am happy to be back, I was happy to be a Blue Jay and obviously I am going to make the best of the situation," Haerther said.

The gamut of emotions he has felt over the last four days about the Cardinals, his only professional organization until this past week, are most understandable.

"It was a little bit weird that they didn't want me and now they want me… Maybe they saw that another team valued me and maybe they underestimated that and wanted another chance at me… I don't know. I am still scratching my head. I am happy to be on someone's big league roster and definitely the same team that drafted me. Hopefully, they will give me a good look this year," the popular outfielder explained.

Subscribers to can listen to all of Cody's comments via the following audio link: (4:03)

John Vuch, Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations, explains the organization's thought process in further detail. "To those unfamiliar with the way the waiver process works, I'm sure this ended up seeming quite confusing, but it really wasn't unexpected from our perspective, and ended up transpiring as we had anticipated.

"We had sat down as a group and based on the timing and roster situations for the other MLB teams, we envisioned one of two scenarios. One was that he would have simply cleared waivers and we could have outrighted him to our AAA roster (as happened with Dennis Dove). The other possibility was the scenario that ended up taking place with the claiming team turning around and trying to put him back on waivers.

"Without getting into specific strategies, we felt it was extremely likely that we'd ultimately have the opportunity to retain Cody in our organization prior to the 2008 season, and suspected that it would happen fairly quickly.

"Obviously, there's a certain element of risk involved, but our analysis of the situation led us to believe that the likelihood of us ultimately losing Cody without a chance to reclaim him was very low. For obvious reasons, I can't go into detail, but from our perspective there were certain advantages in handling the situation the way we did," Vuch explained.

The organization does acknowledge the emotional toll the maneuver put on the player and his family. Vuch continues.

"The one unfortunate part of it is the swing of emotions for Cody, as the human element is always the toughest part of these kind of transactions, but I spoke with Cody when we "lost" him and again after we reclaimed him, and I think he better understands the mechanisms behind it, and realizes that he's still a big part of this organization's plans," Vuch said in closing.

With this move, the Cardinals' 40-man roster is currently at its capacity. However, do not expect that to continue with the Winter Meetings and Rule 5 Draft less than two weeks away.

Mozeliak acknowledged as much when he told me this, "With him (Haerther) returning, we will now have other avenues we can go down should we a need a spot."

I discussed possible roster removal options for the club in my article "St. Louis Cardinals Add Five, Drop Two". So Taguchi and/or John Rodriguez may have the most to lose as a result of Wednesday's move.

To review our recent articles on Haerther's travels:
At the first announcement: "Haerther Moves from Cards to Jays via Waivers"
The next day: "On the Cardinals Losing Haerther"
As a Blue Jay: "Haerther Excited to Join Jays"

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