Kinney Outrighting a Signal of More to Come?

Though it looks like a simple paperwork move, the St. Louis Cardinals outrighting of Josh Kinney may be the first step in something bigger.

Though right-handed reliever Josh Kinney was an important contributor to the 2006 World Champion Cardinals, two elbow surgeries, a shoulder ailment this spring and resulting mound struggles put him back with Triple-A Memphis.

After a rough April, things were looking up, however. In June, the 31-year-old had an 11:2 strikeout to walk ratio and yielded just one earned run on six hits in eight innings pitched. Kinney also picked up four saves as serving as closer while Fernando Salas was with St. Louis.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Kinney was outrighted to Memphis on Friday.

What this means essentially is that Kinney has been taken off the Cardinals' 40-man roster. He could have been claimed by another organization, but they would have had to keep him on their 40-man, as well. Apparently that did not occur. Kinney could be re-added to the 40-man later this season if the Cardinals decide they need him in St. Louis.

This has an implication as to Kinney's long-term future with the organization, however. If not returned to the 40-man by the end of the season, he could declare his free agency as a six-year minor league free agent.

Let's consider why the Kinney move may have occurred now.

With the Cardinals' 40-man full plus Kyle Lohse on the 60-day disabled list, Kinney's removal could be advance notice of one of two things – either Lohse is very close to returning, in which case he would reclaim roster spot #40, or the Cardinals may be adding another player to their major league roster.

Since Lohse has barely begun to toss the baseball and could not even be taken off the 60-day for almost three weeks, the latter seems by far the most likely.

Could it be a replacement for injured Ryan Ludwick, another pitcher, a trade target, a free agent, or some combination of the above?

Another possibility is the first-time addition of a minor leaguer to the 40-man, in preparation for his initial call up to St. Louis. For example, Memphis starters Brandon Dickson and Lance Lynn would be among those who would fit in that category.

Watch this space for more news.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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