The Cardinals have been amidst the flurry of trade and contract rumors that seem to swirl around with the breeze this time of year. They have been linked to names such as Freddie Freeman, Ben Zobrist, and Chris Davis, but those rumors have yet to become anything more. St. Louis had a little transaction action in November but lacked any husky signings or acquisitions.
First and foremost, six Cardinals elected free agency. Matt Belisle, Jonathan Broxton, Randy Choate, Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Mark Reynolds, and Carlos Villanueva are up for contracts. Frankly, Jason Heyward is the one on this list that the Cardinals are most inclined to offer a deal..
Early in the month, the Cardinals announced that LHP Jaime Garcia’s $11.5 million option would be exercised for the upcoming season. On St. Louis’s behalf and given how much Jaime meant to the team the previous season with the injuries the pitching staff endured, picking up his option made sense. And, the fact that Lance Lynn underwent ulnar collateral ligament surgery less than two weeks after made it clear that signing Garcia was a wise thing to do.
Alex Reyes, one of the pitching prospects maturing in the farm system, was suspended fifty games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Many are anticipating Alex to be at least a call-up in September and maybe even make the 25-man at an earlier date. His suspension may toss a small wrench into those anticipations..
In order to protect them from the approaching Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals added Aledmys Diaz, Anthony Garcia, Dean Kiekhefer, and Charlie Tilson to the 40-man roster. Pete Kozma and catchers Ed Easley and Travis Tartamella were outrighted to Triple-A Memphis. Free agents P Deck McGuire and C Eric Fryer were signed to minor league deals.
Former Cincinnati Red and free agent Brayan Pena was signed on November’s final day. The 33-year-old catcher will serve as Yadier Molina’s backup and may assist the Cardinals and their efforts to give Yadi more days off. Molina, who is also 33, is coming off of a surgery that repaired ligaments in his left thumb. The switch-hitting catcher appeared in 108 games for the Reds in 2015. In those games, Pena hit .273 with seventeen doubles and eighteen RBI.
November is considered to be baseball’s award season, and the Cardinals got a few pieces of hardware. Manager Mike Matheny finished second in the National League Manager of the Year Award voting. Catcher Yadier Molina took home his eighth consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and Jason Heyward took his third overall. The 26-year-old Heyward also received a Fielding Bible Award and the Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. St. Louis named Stephen Piscotty their Minor League Player of the Year and chose Alex Reyes and Austin Gomber as their Minor League Pitchers of the Year.
The Cardinals have some work to do as the calendar flips to December. The deadline to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players is Wednesday, December 2nd, at 10:59 p.m. CT. Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, Peter Bourjos, Tony Cruz, and Steve Cishek are the guys who are eligible for arbitration. The Cards are still contenders in the sweepstakes of LHP David Price, Jason Heyward, and others. How close those particular two are to signing contracts isn’t clear at this time, especially what teams’ contracts they’ll be signing.
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