MLB Trade Rumors » » St. Louis Cardinals 2018-01-16T23:32:59Z Steve Adams <![CDATA[Molina Plans To Retire After 2020]]> 2018-01-16T06:00:14Z 2018-01-16T04:08:58Z
  • Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is currently planning to retire after his current contract expires in 2020, he tells’s Jenifer Langosch. Molina says his body still feels up to the rigors of his typically large workload, adding that he has no plans to cut back on his playing time at the age of 35. There’s time, of course, for Molina’s mind to change on the matter of retirement. If he remains healthy and productive through the 2020 season and the Cardinals remain in contention, for instance, it’s not difficult to envision a change of heart. That said, Langosch notes that Molina sounded much more definitive on the matter this time around than he did a year ago when discussing his future after signing a three-year, $60MM extension that spans the 2018-20 seasons.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Exploring Further Improvements]]> 2018-01-15T13:45:28Z 2018-01-15T03:35:57Z
  • Cardinals president John Mozeliak informed the Associated Press and other media this weekend that they’re continuing to “explore” ways to improve, though he’s confident in their current roster. Mozeliak is “hesitant” to surrender prospects for players who are low on team control, the AP writes. The Cards did make that type of trade last month, though, acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna’s two years of control from Miami in exchange for four prospects. Ozuna discussed his reaction to the deal this weekend, telling Jenifer Langosch of and other reporters: “The first thing I heard [was] they were going to trade me to the Oakland A’s. I said, ’God, please, leave me over here.’ Then I heard they traded me to the Cardinals, and I said, ’OK, thanks.'”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Colome, Archer, Holland, Hicks]]> 2018-01-14T18:06:15Z 2018-01-14T18:04:58Z
  • The Cardinals were linked to Rays closer Alex Colome in trade rumors earlier this winter, though two sources tell Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team’s interest in Colome was “overstated.”  Chris Archer seems to be the Cards’ top target in regards to trade talks with the Rays.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Goold and other reporters that he is still “kicking tires” on some other bullpen options but he is overall comfortable going into the season with Luke Gregerson as the top closer option.  This could be some gamesmanship on Mozeliak’s part given that St. Louis has been exploring several relief options both before and after they signed Gregerson, though Gregerson collected 31 saves as recently as 2015 when he pitched for Houston.  In terms of other available relievers, the Cardinals have “at most, tempered” interest in Greg Holland.  Beyond the veteran Gregerson, the Cards also have several young arms in the pen and in the upper minors that could eventually factor into the ninth-inning mix.  Goold notes that hard-throwing righty prospect Jordan Hicks has drawn trade interest from other teams.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cards Were On Longoria's List Of Preferred Trade Destinations]]> 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z
  • Evan Longoria shared some interesting details about his trade to the Giants in an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday (as detailed by’s Daniel Kramer).  Though Longoria didn’t have any leverage in the form of no-trade protection or 10-and-5 rights, he said he “kind of gave them [the Rays] a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me,” specifically teams that “were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out.”  It isn’t known how much, if at all, Longoria’s list factored into Tampa’s decision-making, though the Giants were one of the teams included.  The Cardinals, another club linked to Longoria in trade rumors, were also on the third baseman’s list.  Longoria said he felt a trade was coming after a talk with Rays GM Erik Neander two weeks before the Giants deal was completed.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Gregerson, Archer, Longoria]]> 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z
  • The Cardinals’ current plan for their 2018 bullpen includes deploying the newly signed Luke Gregerson as their closer, president John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters on Saturday (Twitter link). They also plan to heavily rely on left-hander Tyler Lyons and get contributions from righty prospects Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley. Of course, with the season still a couple months away, the Cards could pick up another established reliever(s) to swipe Gregerson’s ninth-inning role in the coming weeks. They’ve been linked to the likes of Alex Colome and Addison Reed this offseason, though the latter came off the board Saturday when he agreed to join the Twins.
    • The Cardinals’ current plan for their 2018 bullpen includes deploying the newly signed Luke Gregerson as their closer, president John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters on Saturday (Twitter link). They also plan to heavily rely on left-hander Tyler Lyons and get contributions from righty prospects Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley. Of course, with the season still a couple months away, the Cards could pick up another established reliever(s) to swipe Gregerson’s ninth-inning role in the coming weeks. They’ve been linked to the likes of Alex Colome and Addison Reed this offseason, though the latter came off the board Saturday when he agreed to join the Twins.
    • In another tweet, Goold relays that the Cardinals turned their attention to Rays righty Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria after acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins last month. The talks between the two sides “weren’t fruitful,” Goold writes. Longoria is now out of play, having gone to the Giants in a late-December deal, though Archer remains one of the Rays’ prime trade candidates.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

    Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.

    Onto today’s landslide of deals…

    National League West

    • The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
    • Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
    • The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
    • The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
    • The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.

    National League Central

    • All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals,’s Jenifer Langosch tweetsMarcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
    • The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
    • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
    • Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
    • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

    National League East

    • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
    • The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
    • The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection.  Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
    • Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
    • The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Avoid Arbitration With Randal Grichuk]]> 2018-01-12T05:20:00Z 2018-01-12T05:12:47Z
  • The Cardinals have settled at $2.6MM with outfielder Randal Grichuk, Nightengale tweets. That falls just a bit shy of his $2.8MM projection. It’s not yet clear whether Grichuk will remain with St. Louis through to Opening Day, though at this point he’d be a part of a crowded outfield mix.
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    Matt Swartz <![CDATA[Arbitration Breakdown: Marcell Ozuna and Jose Abreu]]> 2018-01-11T00:38:07Z 2018-01-11T00:38:07Z Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available, for those interested.

    Marcell Ozuna | Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Before Marcell Ozuna reports for his first Spring Training as a Cardinal, he will have to start the potentially uncomfortable process of salary arbitration with them. Ozuna has quite a resume to boast, which is part of what made him so attractive to the Cardinals in the first place. He hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs last year, giving him few comparables among second-time arbitration-eligible players.

    My model projects a substantial raise for him of $7.4MM — all the way to a $10.9MM salary. This may be high, given the lack of exact historical comparables and the potential for an arbitration process to discount some of the home runs hit in a very high league home run environment (2017 set a record). That said, it still suggests that Ozuna is going to get a large raise anyway.

    Jose Abreu | Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    Jose Abreu had a comparable season, and his projection is accordingly similar. He hit .304 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs, making the primary difference in their cases the lower RBI total for Abreu. The White Sox slugger is projected for a $7.1MM raise instead of Ozuna’s $7.4MM, but he starts from a higher base salary and is therefore projected to land at $17.9MM.

    No other players in the past five years have entered arbitration with the elusive .300/30/100 slash line. However, several players did so in the prior five years, including Jacoby Ellsbury in 2012 (.321/32/105), Josh Hamilton in 2011 (.359/32/100), Matt Holliday in 2008 (.340/36/137) and Miguel Cabrera in 2008 (.320/34/119). Those players got raises between $5.65MM (Ellsbury) and $3.9MM (Cabrera), although both Hamilton and Holliday got raises above $5MM, thus making Cabrera the exception.

    It seems quite likely that Ellsbury, with 39 stolen bases to Ozuna’s one stolen base, would have a better case. However, the fact that Ellsbury’s case is six years old could put them closer together and could even put Ozuna and Abreu ahead. One thing that is important to note is that only Ellsbury got a one-year deal. The other raises mentioned above are part of multi-year deals, which are usually not very applicable in arbitration cases (although they could be in this scenario with few comparables).

    If we look for a player more recent, we might consider Manny Machado last year at .294/37/96. He got a $6.5MM raise and clearly looks like a relevant player. The home run environment difference in just one year is pretty limited as well.

    The record raise for a second-time eligible hitter belongs to Chris Davis, who got a $7.05MM raise after his .286/53/138 campaign in 2014. That would probably compare favorably to Ozuna’s numbers because of the home run difference, but the four years’ lag could render that number stale and push Ozuna and Abreu above him after all, as the model predicts. However, I think it may serve as a ceiling, leaving Ozuna and Abreu south of theor projections and slightly south of Davis.

    Charlie Blackmon hit .324/29/104 last season, but did so in Coors Field, so he might be seen as less impressive than Ozuna and Abreu. His $3.8MM raise is probably a floor, and perhaps not that close of one.

    I think it may be more likely that Ozuna and Abreu both get raises somewhere around $6MM. The triad of players with .300/30/100 slash lines and raises over $5MM back in 2008-12 are probably floors, whereas Davis’ raise seems like a ceiling. If that proves true, Ozuna might end up around $10MM instead of closer to $11MM, and Abreu might end up closer to $17MM than $18MM.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Edwards On Pham's Late Breakout]]> 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z
  • There’s little precedent for Tommy Pham’s enormous breakout season at the age of 29, writes SB Nation’s Craig Edwards. Pham posted a roughly six-win season for the Cardinals (5.9 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) last year on the strength of a .306/.411/.520 batting line through 530 plate appearances. However, he’d provided minimal value to the Cards over his first 136 games in the bigs after progressing slowly through the minor leagues. Edwards looks for historical context for Pham’s breakout, noting that there’ve been 48 outfielders with a WAR between five and seven in their age-29 season over the past 70 years. Of that group, only three — Jose Bautista, Ryan Ludwick and former Tigers outfielder Charlie Maxwell — broke out with as limited a track record as Pham. It’s an interesting look at a unique breakout season that also attempts to gauge how Pham will perform in 2018 and beyond.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/5/18]]> 2018-01-06T05:53:20Z 2018-01-06T02:53:11Z Here are Friday’s minor moves from around the game…

    • The Rangers have inked a minor-league pact with right-hander Brandon Cumpton, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning news (Twitter link). Arm troubles have limited the 29-year-old of late, but he did return to professional action in 2017 after a two-year hiatus. Over 37 1/3 innings, Cumpton pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • As Cumpton leaves the Pirates organization, two other right-handers are on their way in, according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects. Tyler Jones and Bo Schultz have each joined the Bucs on minor-league arrangements, per the report. The former will be looking to crack the majors for the first time. He has often produced quality strikeout rates in the upper minors but only managed a 4.38 ERA in 63 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year with the Yankees organization. As for Schultz, the former Blue Jays reliever will be looking to return from Tommy John surgery. Schultz turned in a useful 2015 season but faltered in the ensuing season — he worked to a 5.51 ERA in his 16 1/3 MLB innings — before going under the knife.
    • Righty William Cuevas will join the Red Sox organization on a minor-league pact, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 27-year-old has spent the bulk of his career in the Boston organization but played elsewhere in 2017. He worked to a 4.85 ERA in 104 Triple-A frames in 2017, with 7.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. Cuevas has twice cracked the majors, but only briefly.
    • Yet another right-handed hurler, Preston Guilmet, is heading to the Cardinals on a minors deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. He’ll get a spring invite and can earn at a $600K rate in the majors. The 30-year-old Guilmet has seen parts of three seasons in the majors but only has 23 career innings at the game’s highest level. He has put up some interesting results of late, though, posting a 2.77 ERA with 10.8 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2016 before heading to Japan and running a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 54 2/3 innings for the Yakult Swallows (over four starts and 28 relief appearances).

    Earlier Updates

    • The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with former Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Kozma, 30 in April, split the 2017 season between the Rangers and Yankees organizations and logged 51 plate appearances in the Majors, though he batted just .111/.200/.178 in that small sample. Long considered an excellent defender with a light bat, Kozma is a career .215/.282/.285 hitter in parts of six MLB seasons but also comes with a career +11 Defensive Runs Saved mark and +9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1450 innings at shortstop.
    • The Braves announced yesterday that right-handed reliever Luke Jackson cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Rangers system, the now-26-year-old Jackson posted an ERA north of 6.00 and walked 16 batters in 24 1/3 innings with Gwinnett last season. He actually performed better in the Majors, logging a 4.62 ERA in 50 1/3 frames, albeit with pedestrian averages of 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 45.2 percent grounder rate. Jackson does have a history of missing bats in the upper minors and did average 94.7 mph on his heater last year while running up a 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate, so there’s some hope that he could yet figure things out.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Sign Steven Baron To Minors Pact]]> 2018-01-03T05:02:50Z 2018-01-03T05:02:17Z
  • The Cardinals have added backstop Steven Baron on a minors pact, according to’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). (As she also notes, and we covered previously, the club also added catcher Francisco Pena.) Baron, 27, was the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 draft, but he has never hit much at all in the minors and has only minimal MLB experience. Still, he’ll represent another upper-level depth option for the Cards, who’ll become his first organization other than the Mariners. Baron spent most of 2017 at Triple-A, where he slashed .256/.339/.329 in 187 plate appearances.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Rumblings: Arrieta, Darvish, Cobb, Cole, Yelich]]> 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z The latest on the North Siders comes from Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago

    • To this point, the Cubs and Cardinals have shown the most interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, according to Levine. The Cubs reportedly may be willing to offer a four-year, $110MM contract to the soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta, who mostly thrived with the team from 2013-17.
    • Elsewhere on the pitching market, the Cubs remain in contact with Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb, per Levine, though he casts doubt on them being the favorites to sign the latter. They’re wary of Cobb’s asking price, which appears to be in the $17MM to $19MM range per annum, Levine relays.
    • Along with the previously reported Chris Archer, the Cubs are interested in swinging a trade for Pirates righty Gerrit Cole, Levine writes. This is the first reported connection of the offseason between the Cubs and Cole, who has mostly been linked to the Yankees. Talks between the Yankees and Pirates simmered last month, though, which could pave the way for another team to swoop in and land the 27-year-old. Given that Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the same division, the Cubs are obviously quite familiar with Cole. The Scott Boras client is under control for the next two seasons, and he’ll earn a projected $7.5MM in 2018.
    • Looking beyond starting pitching possibilities, Levine doesn’t rule out more additions to the Cubs’ bullpen or position player group. With Wade Davis having signed with the Rockies, the Cubs could be in the market for a closer if they don’t want to turn the ninth-inning reins to either of the just-signed Brandon MorrowSteve Cishek tandem or another in-house option. But whether the team bids on a top free agent like Greg Holland or Addison Reed could depend on how much spending room it has left after it picks up another starter, per Levine. Further, it’s possible the Cubs could try to trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who would likely cost them fellow center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in a deal, Levine contends. He also lists free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain as a name to watch for the Cubs.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals "Still Involved" On Eric Hosmer]]> 2018-01-03T13:24:34Z 2018-01-02T19:29:31Z
  • The Cardinals still seemingly have a wide array of potential targets as they aim to continue adding bats to their lineup (among other possibilities for improvement). Per Jon Morosi of, via Twitter, the Cards shouldn’t be counted out on Hosmer. According to the report, St. Louis “remain[s] involved” on the first bagger, with Morosi noting the club could conceivably then bump Matt Carpenter to third base. From an outside perspective, that still seems like a hefty investment for the potential reward, particularly since the organization decided just last year to shift Carpenter across the diamond — in part, at least, to improve the defensive situation at third. With Jedd Gyorko coming off of a strong two-way campaign at the hot corner, Kolten Wong still occupying second, and a pair of young options on hand at first (Jose Martinez and Luke Voit), there are some other components at play here for the Cards. Presumably, the addition of Hosmer would mean a trade involving one or more of those existing players.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Added Much-Needed Middle-Infield Depth In Piscotty Swap]]> 2018-01-02T18:38:03Z 2018-01-02T05:41:37Z
  • The Cardinals’ recent trade of outfielder Stephen Piscotty was designed, in part, to make way for the team’s addition of Marcell Ozuna. At the same time, as Derrick Goold writes for Baseball America, the deal brought in some much-needed middle-infield depth. Youngsters Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock now sit atop the org’s prospect chart at shortstop and second base, respectively. The complexities involved in these two deals (and a few other related negotiations that did and did not come to fruition) serve to illustrate how many moving pieces can be involved in trade talks.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Cardinals' Interest In Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-20T23:57:06Z 2017-12-20T23:56:39Z
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinals perhaps have some cause to believe the Blue Jays are willing to consider moving star third baseman Josh Donaldsonper Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He suggests there’s some indication from the Jays side that the team isn’t dead-set against a move if it brought back MLB pieces as well as prospect value. To an extent, the Toronto organization has something of the opposite problem that the Cards do: the former needs multiple assets while the latter is loaded with solid players but would like a few premium pieces. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had posited this sort of scenario a few weeks back.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Red Sox, Hosmer, Royals, Cards, Donaldson, Mets, Kipnis, A-Gon]]> 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.

    • Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
    • The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
    • While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
    • The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Manny Machado Rumors: Monday]]> 2017-12-18T15:13:28Z 2017-12-18T14:57:42Z Just days after the Giancarlo Stanton trade saga came to an end, the Orioles reportedly made Manny Machado available and began asking teams around the league for offers on the 25-year-old superstar. Here’s the latest chatter on Machado as the Orioles field interest in the best player in recent franchise history…

    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes a lengthy look at the market for Machado (subscription required and strongly recommended), reporting that trade offers from interested parties improved over the weekend and that a deal could happen this week. Specific details on each club’s offers, of course, aren’t fully known, though Rosenthal reports that the D-backs included young infielder Brandon Drury as part of their package. Rosenthal provides an overview of how seven Machado suitors could make a deal work, though he notes that there’s still a general doubt among his sources that Orioles owner Peter Angelos would green-light a deal sending Machado to the Yankees.
    • Dan Connolly of paints a bit of a different picture regarding Angelos, writing that it’s possible Angelos could be swayed into approving a deal sending Machado the Bronx. Angelos, Connolly writes, solicits opinions from a wide array of trusted confidants and advisors — so many so that there are often conflicting opinions. A lack of consensus among that inner circle may have been what ultimately quashed this past July’s would-be Zach Britton trade to the Astros, per Connolly. However, Connolly hears that there’s a general sense within the organization that a deal will get done, and an organizational consensus could dissuade Angelos from interfering with any agreement, regardless of the trade partner in question. Within that same piece, Connolly also explores how the Machado situation could be slowing Baltimore’s other offseason endeavors.
    • The Cardinals have been oft-linked to Machado, though president of baseball operations John Mozeliak implied in an appearance on KMOX Sports radio in St. Louis this morning that he’d have a hard time making a deal for Machado (Twitter link via KMOX’s Tom Ackerman). Said Mozeliak: “If you’re trading away two to three prospects that have a combined 18 years of control… for one [year]? That doesn’t sit well with me.” That, of course, doesn’t preclude a deal from coming together — Mozeliak did trade four pieces for two years of Marcell Ozuna — but it does seem to suggest that the Cards would have a hard time deciding to outbid the field to secure the rights to Machado’s 2018 season.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Cardinals' Search For Impact Hitter]]> 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z
  • The Cardinals typically prefer to acquire controllable players, notes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, though “it remains possible” the win-now club will swing a deal for one year of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson or the Orioles’ Manny Machado. The Redbirds and Blue Jays continue to discuss Donaldson, according to Goold, but he’s the latest to point out that the Jays don’t seem motivated to move him.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-17T15:10:42Z 2017-12-17T15:10:02Z SUNDAY: The White Sox and Diamondbacks had shown the most interest in Machado as of Saturday morning, Olney heard from AL sources.

    THURSDAY: Trade winds continue to swirl around Manny Machado, as the Orioles’ apparent willingness to consider dealing its star third baseman was one of the major storylines of the Winter Meetings.  The Orioles have received ten “legitimate offers” for Machado, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports, though the quality of those offers and the number of teams involved may be hampered by Baltimore’s refusal to allow a 72-hour window for a new team to talk to Machado’s agents about a possible extension.

    The Cardinals didn’t make “a formal offer” due to that lack of negotiating period, and the White Sox (previously thought to have made the strongest of all the offers) apparently didn’t include any of their top prospects in their proposal, Nightengale reports.  Two executives said that Chicago made its offer with the belief that the Sox would only have Machado for the 2018 season.

    One major factor influencing talks is Baltimore owner Peter Angelos’ insistence that Machado not end up with the Yankees in 2018.  This naturally rules out a direct trade with New York, though Angelos also doesn’t want a scenario where Machado is dealt to a team that would flip him to the Yankees for prospects, be it before the July trade deadline or even later this offseason.  These parameters would seem to limit the Orioles’ list of potential trade partners to only contending teams, and maybe even to contenders that would seemingly have no chance of a midseason collapse and subsequent deadline fire sale (though obviously one can’t know for sure what would-be contenders could be in for a nightmare season, a la the 2017 Giants.)

    The White Sox aren’t expected to contend for even a couple of seasons yet, and thus would seem like potential candidates to deal Machado in order to further hasten their rebuild.  The Sox are apparently willing to address Angelos’ concerns, as Nightengale writes that “if the Orioles even wanted it in writing that they’d keep him around until at least mid-summer,” Chicago would be fine with that assurance.  This would be quite an unusual type of trade provisio, of course, and one that Angelos may still not be fine with if he wants to eliminate any chance of Machado wearing Yankee pinstripes in 2018.

    Beyond the teams already reported as having interest in Machado, the Diamondbacks are also in the mix,’s Buster Olney tweets.  Arizona “checked in” on the Machado talks, though it isn’t clear if the D’Backs were just performing due diligence or if they were one of the clubs who made Baltimore an offer.  Machado would seem to be something of an unlikely fit for a D’Backs team that doesn’t have the payroll space to afford Machado’s $17.3 projected salary for 2018, though they could clear some of their own pricier arb-eligible players off the books by sending them back to the O’s.  Patrick Corbin, for instance, would be an upgrade for the Orioles’ rotation, while Jake Lamb would replace Machado at third base and give some much-needed left-handed balance to Baltimore’s lineup.

    MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently took a broad look at the Machado situation, gauging all 29 other teams by how plausible they seem as contenders to actually land the star infielder.  Needless to say, Angelos’ specifications would seem to narrow an already thin market, since there aren’t many teams willing to meet the Orioles’ big asking price (reportedly two controllable starting pitchers) for just a year of Machado’s services.  Adams listed both the White Sox and Diamondbacks as “out of the picture” candidates, so their chances of working out a deal could be even more remote given Angelos’ wariness of any “creative” follow-up trades a Machado suitor could make.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Rumors: Schoop, Mancini, Givens, Machado, Cards, Duffy]]> 2017-12-17T14:55:10Z 2017-12-17T14:33:31Z The latest on the Orioles comes in a pair of articles from Roch Kubatko of…

    • It’s unclear how many “untouchable” players the Orioles have, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop, outfielder Trey Mancini and reliever Mychal Givens are among them, an executive from outside the organization told Kubatko at the Winter Meetings. The lone player of those three who’s not under control for the long haul is Schoop, who has two arbitration-eligible years remaining. The Orioles will attempt to extend him sometime soon, Kubatko suggests. Mancini is controllable for the next half-decade, including two pre-arb campaigns, while Givens is under wraps for four more seasons (he’ll be eligible for arbitration in a year).
    • While talking Manny Machado with the Cardinals, the Orioles showed interest in a trio of right-handers – Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks – as well as catcher Carson Kelly, Kubatko relays. In acquiring Weaver and Flaherty, the Orioles would accomplish their goal of getting two major league-ready starters for their top player. Of course, it’s questionable whether the Cardinals would even part with one (let alone both) for a single year of Machado. Weaver held his own across 60 1/3 innings last season for the Cards, who may not be in position to lose another starter with free agent Lance Lynn likely set to depart, while Flaherty ranks as’s 48th-best prospect.
    • The Orioles are reportedly trying to acquire Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but Kubatko throws cold water on the possibility. Baltimore is indeed interested in Duffy, but it’s unlikely a deal with Kansas City will come together, in part because the Royals aren’t “aggressively shopping” the soon-to-be 29-year-old, Kubatko hears.
    • Although the Orioles are seeking a left-handed hitter, they don’t seem to have interest in free agent Jon Jay, per Kubatko. That differs from previous offseasons when Jay was on the O’s radar, he notes. Conversely, Baltimore could consider Preston Tucker, whom the Astros designated for assignment Friday.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Sign Luke Gregerson]]> 2017-12-18T17:17:21Z 2017-12-16T19:24:12Z Dec. 16: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets a breakdown of Gregerson’s contract. The reliever is guaranteed $5MM in both 2018 and 2019, with a vesting option for 2020 that requires him to appear in either 60 games in 2019 or 130 games total in 2018 and 2019 combined. It also appears as though he must be healthy for the option to vest on the latter condition. Gregerson can earn up to $1MM in incentives.

    Dec. 13: The deal is now official, Jenifer Langosch of tweets.

    Dec 10: The Cardinals and free agent reliever Luke Gregerson have agreed to a two-year, $11MM contract with an option, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). It’ll be a $5MM club option or a $6MM vesting option (with a $1MM buyout), Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The option will vest at 60 games in 2019 or 130 games from 2018-19, Nightengale adds. He’ll make $5MM in both guaranteed years of the pact, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    Luke Gregerson [RELATED: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]

    The deal is pending a physical, which Gregerson will take Tuesday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Gregerson is an O’Connell Sports Management client.

    This will be the second stint with the St. Louis organization for the right-handed Gregerson, whom the Cardinals selected in the 28th round of the 2006 draft. Gregerson never got past the Double-A level during his first go-around with the franchise, though, as the Redbirds traded him to the Padres in 2009 in a deal involving shortstop Khalil Greene.

    Gregerson made his major league debut the same year of the trade and quickly became a highly effective member of the Padres’ bullpen. He stuck with the Friars through 2013 before pitching for the Athletics (2014) and Astros (2015-17). Although the 33-year-old Gregerson has never been a hard thrower, he has nonetheless registered excellent numbers across 599 innings, with a 3.02 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 2.55 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent groundball rate. Gregerson has been quite durable along the way, having never pitched fewer than 55 2/3 frames in any season, and he brings experience as a setup man and a closer.

    Although Gregerson is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-worst 4.57 ERA as a member of the title-winning Astros, his year wasn’t devoid of positives. With 61 innings, he eclipsed the 60-frame mark for the sixth time. Gregerson also continued to put up appealing strikeout, walk and groundball numbers (10.33, 2.95 and 50.0 in those respective categories), and he notched the third-highest swinging-strike rate of his career (15.6 percent).

    If the career-worst home run-to-fly ball rate (23.6 percent) Gregerson logged in 2017 proves to be an aberration, he should be a quality piece for a Cards bullpen in need of aid. With Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Juan Nicasio and Zach Duke currently on the open market, St. Louis has been on the lookout for relief help since last season concluded. Gregerson may be the first of multiple pickups this offseason for the club’s bullpen, and he’s clearly the most established member of a group that includes a few solid holdovers in Brett Cecil, Tyler Lyons, Matthew Bowman, Sam Tuivailala and John Brebbia.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Pitching Notes: Cardinals, Chavez, Stammen, Rodney]]> 2017-12-16T16:53:40Z 2017-12-16T16:47:48Z John Mozeliak (President of Baseball Operations for the Cardinals) expressed that he’s content with his club’s rotation, via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and the recently-signed Miles Mikolas are likely to occupy the first four spots in the rotation. Mozeliak says that a lot depends on how Adam Wainwright looks; however, John Gant and Tyler Lyons could also be in the mix. Mozeliak feels as though the Cards are “fine,” which would seem to make it less likely that St. Louis will be in the mix for big names such as Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.

    More pitching notes from around the league…

    • Free agent Jesse Chavez has offers from five different MLB clubs to fill a starter/long reliever role, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, adding that the right-hander is expected to make a decision this weekend. Chavez pitched 138 innings for the Angels in 2017, and although his 5.35 ERA seems somewhat uninspiring, his 4.43 xFIP suggests he might have pitched a bit better than the surface results indicate. He also walked fewer than three batters per nine innings for the third season in a row. In addition to the Angels, Chavez has pitched for the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Royals and Pirates over the course of his ten-year big league career.
    • The Reds have recently spoken with right-hander Craig StammenMark Sheldon of reports. Sheldon notes that Stammen is a product of the University of Dayton, which is within an hour of Cincinnati. The 33-year-old reliever tossed 80 1/3 innings across 60 appearances for the Friars in 2017, posting a 3.14 ERA. Stammen began his big league career as a starter for the Nationals, but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since 2011.
    • Before choosing to sign with the Twins, Fernando Rodney had offers from three other big league clubs. The Rangers, Mets and Tigers all tried to sign the right-hander, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Rodney will reportedly have a chance to hold down the closer role in Minnesota this season; he can earn up to $6MM if he meets incentives in his contract, which includes a club option for the 2019 season.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals Acquire Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-14T19:31:49Z 2017-12-14T19:30:26Z TODAY: The move is official, with Miami announcing it.

    YESTERDAY, 5:05pm: The Marlins will also receive pitching prospects Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano, per Spencer (Twitter link). Gallen, a 22-year-old righty, ranks as the Cardinals’ 13th-best prospect at The outlet did not rank Castano among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects, on the other hand. The 23-year-old left-hander, a 19th-round pick in 2016, spent last season at the low-A level and posted a 2.57 ERA, 8.01 K/9 against 1.29 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent groundball rate over 14 starts (91 innings).

    4:35pm: Sierra is in the deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter.

    1:54pm: There are three other prospects in the deal, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. But those are lesser assets and Alcantara is considered the centerpiece of the swap.

    1:12: Young righty Sandy Alcantara is going to Miami in the deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Goold had mentioned his possible inclusion; Alcantara was slated to join the Fish in the scuttled Stanton deal.

    Alcantara, 22, reached the majors briefly in 2017 as a reliever, but he’s seen as a high-ceiling starting prospect. Over 125 1/3 Double-A innings in his first attempt at the upper minors, Alcantara posted a 4.31 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. We did not learn much from his first eight appearances in the majors, but Alcantara did show a 98+ mph fastball and generated swings and misses at a robust 17.4% rate.

    12:49pm: It sounds as if young arms will make up a significant part of the return, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting the package will include multiple pitchers and a position player. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds some more detail, saying the Cards “offered a pitching prospect as the centerpiece of a deal” and that an outfielder will be among the players changing hands.

    12:06pm: The Cardinals have struck a deal to acquire outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter).’s Jesse Sanchez confirms the move on Twitter but notes it is pending a physical. Indications earlier today were that the deal was moving closer, and it has evidently now been completed.


    Ozuna, who turned 27 earlier in the offseason, is projected by MLBTR to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. At his age and with his track record of productivity, that’s a bargain rate of pay — which, no doubt, will be reflected in the still-unknown trade return for Miami.

    While the teams had attempted to line up on a deal for slugger Giancarlo Stanton, those efforts were nixed when Stanton declined to waive his no-trade clause to go to St. Louis. But the talks weren’t for naught: they also paved the way to today’s reported agreement on Ozuna, who has no trade protections.

    The Cardinals have looked far and wide for bats this winter as they seek to consolidate a broad group of talent into a few more premium lineup pieces. Ozuna certainly represents the top-end bat they were in search of — at least, that is, so long as he can replicate something like his 2017 output.

    In the just-finished campaign, Ozuna drove the ball out of the yard 37 times, carried a personal-high 9.4% walk rate, and ended with an appealing .312/.376/.548 slash line over 679 plate appearances. That’s a big step forward for a player who had hewed closer to league-average production over his prior two seasons.

    Beyond the fact that Ozuna has not yet repeated that level of output, there are a few other slight red flags. He carried a .355 BABIP that’s unlikely to be replicated and was perhaps a bit fortunate to send 23.4% of the fly balls he hit out of the park. On the whole, though, Ozuna has always been considered a player with the talent for this sort of dominance, and his healthy 39.1% hard-hit rate shows he was rewarded for making good contact.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Cards plan to utilize Ozuna, who has previously spent time in center field but shifted to the corner in 2017. He graded quite well upon the move and has at times done the same up the middle. That leaves the team with a variety of players who could be described similarly in regard to their glovework.

    Odds are, the Cardinals will plan to give primary time to Ozuna, Tommy Pham, and Dexter Fowler. Perhaps which player plays center is less important than the fact that the club will feel it has three useful defenders on the grass. Regardless, that would leave Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk among those looking at possible reserve duty.

    More likely, one or both will be traded. Piscotty and Grichuk, after all, both hit from the right side — as do the three top outfielders (with Fowler representing switch-hitting option who fares better traditionally from the right side). Indeed, the Cards could move yet more pieces from a 40-man roster that is full of right-handed-hitting outfielders, some of whom could be included in this trade. The only southpaw-swinging outfield bat currently on hand is youngster Magneuris Sierra. He might be destined for some added seasoning, so perhaps it’s not inconceivable that St. Louis could end up seeking another reserve piece that hits from the left side or perhaps look for creative ways to boost the functionality of the team’s infielders.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Red Sox, Machado, White Sox, Cards/Donaldson, Jays/Cain, Mets]]> 2017-12-14T17:45:32Z 2017-12-14T17:43:19Z The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.

    That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:

    • Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
    • For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
    • While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
    • Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
    • While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Acquire Stephen Piscotty]]> 2017-12-14T17:17:59Z 2017-12-14T15:58:17Z The Athletics have officially acquired outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals. Minor league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock will head back to St. Louis in the swap.

    Sep 7, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) singles during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Piscotty, who seemed like a shoo-in to leave the Cardinals via trade entering the offseason, became especially superfluous to the Redbirds when they swung a blockbuster to acquire fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins on Wednesday. That deal left the Cardinals with three highly qualified starting outfielders in Ozuna, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham, thus leading to the end of Piscotty’s tenure with the club.

    [RELATED: Updated Athletics Depth Chart]

    Now 26, Piscotty joined the St. Louis organization as a first-round pick in 2012 and flashed moments of brilliance during his short major league stint there. Between his debut in 2015 and the end of the ’16 campign, the right-handed hitter slashed a terrific .282/.348/.467 with 29 home runs and a 3.9 fWAR in 905 plate appearances. The auspicious start to Piscotty’s career was enough to convince the Cardinals to award him a six-year extension worth a guaranteed $33.5MM prior to last season.

    Unfortunately for St. Louis, early returns on the newly extended Piscotty weren’t positive in 2017. While Piscotty managed to significantly increase his walk rate to 13 percent (up from around 8 percent from 2015-16), his offensive production took an overall dive as he batted a disappointing .235/.342/.367 with nine homers and a subpar .132 ISO (down 53 points from the previous two seasons).

    The Athletics will now hope for a bounce-back from Piscotty, a Northern California native and Stanford alumnus. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the Cards hoped a Piscotty trade would give him a chance to be closer to his mother, who’s battling ALS, and they were able to make good on that.

    As Piscotty deals with a tragic situation off the field, he may be in line for a revival on it; his age, 2015-16 output and batted-ball misfortune are all encouraging signs. Piscotty finished 2017 with a .319 wOBA, but the number should have been closer to a solid .340, according to Statcast.

    If Piscotty does return to something resembling his best form in Oakland, he’ll be an effective, affordable and young piece for the low-payroll club. The A’s saw other position player building blocks in first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman come to the fore in 2017, and, barring trades, have established hitters on hand in DH Khris Davis, corner outfielder Matt Joyce, second baseman Jed Lowrie and shortstop Marcus Semien. Piscotty, who’s likely to play opposite Joyce in one of the corners next year, is now in line to join a growing group of talent on a rebuilding club.

    Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has long reported upon the A’s interest in Piscotty, reported yesterday that the deal was nearing completion and today that a framework was in place (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of FanRag tweeted the deal was in place, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported it was moving forward this morning, and’s Jane Lee tweeted the swap was official.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/14/17]]> 2017-12-14T09:59:38Z 2017-12-14T09:59:38Z Here are a few recent minor moves that took place amidst the recent flurry of major league rumors and transactions…

    • A source tells MLBTR’s Jeff Todd that Felix Doubront has agreed to terms on a contract with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. Doubront hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, though he did spend some time with the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s last season. His most successful MLB season came with the Red Sox in 2013, for whom he made 27 starts and two relief appearances spanning 162 1/3 innings. During that year, he compiled 139 strikeouts and pitched to a 4.32 ERA.
    • The Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-hander Zeke Spruill, TR Sullivan of tweets. Spruill is best known as one of the five players the Diamondbacks acquired from the Braves in exchange for Justin Upton back in 2013. The sinkerballer pitched a handful of innings across a pair of seasons with Arizona during his MLB career, allowing 16 runs in 34 IP. He’s spent the past two years pitching in Korea.
    • Unsurprisingly, yet another international prospect has been signed by the Rangers. Jesse Sanchez of reveals in a tweet that Texas has inked 16-year-old outfielder D’Vaughn Knowles to a deal for $500K. The Bahamian native will join Yenci Pena and Keithron Moss as international players to join the Rangers following Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels.
    • Outfielder Cesar Puello has signed with the Diamondbacks on a minors deal and will receive an invite to spring training (hat tip to Nick Piecoro of Puello made his major league debut last season; the outfielder accrued 39 plate appearances between the Angels and Rays. While his results at the MLB level were rather pedestrian, the Dominican native showed some impressive upside with a .397/.440/.620 across 200 plate appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake, the highest level of the Angels’ farm system. It should be noted that the above slash line came with a .493 BABIP.
    • Tony Pena’s son Francisco Pena has earned a minor league pact with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He’ll serve as an addition to the Redbirds’ catching depth. Pena has made MLB appearances with the Royals and Orioles, garnering 14 hits in 60 plate appearances (including three home runs).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Several Teams Have Reportedly Made Offers For Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-14T17:58:54Z 2017-12-14T08:53:43Z THURSDAY, 2:53am: Nightengale reports in another tweet that the Orioles are “moving aggressively” on trade talks involving Machado, noting that Baltimore believes they can move him by the end of the week.

    THURSDAY, 12:47am: Contrary to Rosenthal’s earlier report, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports via Twitter that the Cardinals have a “strong offer” in place for Machado, though it’s reportedly not as strong as White Sox’ proposal.

    THURSDAY, 12:20am:  Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (insider subscription required and recommended) reports that the White Sox have been the “most aggressive” suitor for Machado. Their goal seems to be to acquire him and attempt to extend him for the long term. Bob Nightengale adds in a tweet that the offer from Chicago was “the best offer of the dozen offers the Orioles have received.”

    Rosenthal also notes that the Giants offered the Orioles a package that included Christian Arroyo. The Cardinals also asked about Machado, but the price was apparently too steep for them.

    WEDNESDAY, 7:53pm: It doesn’t appear that a Machado trade will come together during the Winter Meetings, Encina writes.

    6:30pm: Several teams have made formal trade offers for Machado, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The Yankees’ chances of landing him are near zero, a source told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It seems the Yankees would want to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a a Machado deal to help them stay under the competitive-balance tax threshold, but Sherman doubts he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to Baltimore (Twitter link).

    4:33pm: The Orioles are “making good progress” toward a Machado trade, Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of and other reporters, though Dan Connolly of writes that a deal doesn’t appear imminent. There are more than five teams in the running for Machado, Ghiroli adds. The Orioles met with a “couple” of those teams Wednesday, per Encina. Notably, Duquette hasn’t dismissed trading Machado to another AL East team, Roch Kubatko of relays (all Twitter links here).

    TUESDAY, 6:27pm: The Yankees and White Sox are also interested in Machado, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  As mentioned below, Peter Angelos doesn’t want to deal Machado to New York, while the Sox are an interesting suitor that could be looking at Machado as the centerpiece of a return to contention.  Cardinals GM Michael Girsch told Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that giving up significant assets for a star player with just one year of control remaining is “not a path we are likely to go down.”  Interestingly, this description applies to both Machado and to another oft-mentioned Cards trade target in Josh Donaldson.

    4:29pm: “Several clubs” asked the Orioles about Machado today, Dan Duquette told’s Brittany Ghiroli (Twitter links), Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) and other media.  There’s at least a possibility a trade happens, and the Orioles have apparently not discussed an extension with Machado in years, though new negotiations are “under consideration.”  The O’s haven’t talked about giving any potential Machado trade partner a 72-hour window to try and negotiate their own extension with the infielder.

    1:43pm: The Cardinals have interest in Machado, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Phillies are said to be enamored of Machado, too, and there are no doubt a wide variety of other teams lining up to check on in the asking price. Baltimore is receiving a “ton” of interest in Machado, Rob Bradford of tweets.

    10:57am: While it’s been reported that the Orioles are at least willing to listen to offers on Manny Machado, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes things a step further, reporting that the O’s have asked interested parties to make them offers for the star infielder (subscription required and highly recommended). The term “infielder” is of particular note, as Rosenthal also writes that Machado’s desire is to return to shortstop in 2018 whether he’s in Baltimore or with a new club.

    Machado, 25, has long stood out as an on-paper trade candidate given his proximity to free agency and the Orioles’ lack of starting pitching. The O’s, who have been looking to add as many as three starters to their rotation this winter, will be hard-pressed to contend for an AL East title in 2018 (even more so in the wake of the Bronx Bombers’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton). With Machado set to hit the open market next winter in position to land a record-setting contract — assuming a healthy year, anything south of Stanton’s $325MM guarantee would seem to be a nonstarter — it’s difficult to envision him remaining in Baltimore. For the time being, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $17.3MM salary for Machado next year after his final trip through the arbitration process.

    The Orioles, per Rosenthal, are aiming to acquire two controllable young starters in any trade for Machado. That’s a lofty ask for a lot of teams, but a win-now club with an ample supply of touted but unproven pitching could look at that as an acceptable price to pay for a player that has been worth better than five wins per season, on average, over the past half decade (despite missing 80 games due to injury in 2014). Notably, Rosenthal adds that owner Peter Angelos does not want to trade with the division-rival Yankees.

    Machado didn’t have his best season in 2017, as he got off to a shockingly pedestrian start to the year. Through the season’s first three months, Machado was batting just .216/.289/.423 with an elevated (by his standards) 20.6 percent strikeout rate. Over the final three months, though, the Machado of old resurfaced, as he mashed at a .295/.329/.513 pace with a vastly improved 13.1 percent punchout rate.

    Machado has two Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove to his name at third base and has long graded out as an elite defender there, but there’s little doubt that he could still handle shortstop at an above-average level as well. He logged nearly 400 innings there in 2016, for instance, and drew generally positive marks from Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.9) and Defensive Runs Saved (+3).

    From a broader perspective, Machado is one of several players entering his final year of team control in Baltimore. Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach are all free agents following the 2018 season, while Jonathan Schoop is controlled for just one year beyond that. Depending on how aggressively the O’s are willing to sell off parts, they could quickly restock their farm with an ample supply of talent by marketing more than one of their soon-to-be free agents, though doing so would also mean largely punting on the 2018 campaign at the very least.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics, Cardinals In Serious Talks On Stephen Piscotty Swap]]> 2017-12-13T20:29:53Z 2017-12-13T20:28:59Z 2:28pm: Slusser has added a few more conceivable players in conversations in an updated version of her story. It seems that the sides could be contemplating some of the A’s relief arms.

    1:38pm: The dominoes from the Cardinals’ reported acquisition of Marcell Ozuna are beginning to fall, it seems. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics’ long-standing interest in Cards outfielder Stephen Piscotty could conceivably come to fruition with a deal before the Winter Meetings end.

    Oakland is not willing to part with its best young assets, according to the report, but Slusser says the discussions have revolved around some of the A’s available 40-man assets. One name under consideration, she notes, is infielder Yairo Munoz, a 23-year-old who reached the top level of the minors in 2017.

    Piscotty, who’ll soon turn 27, thrived in his first two seasons in the majors, posting a cumulative .282/.348/.467 slash and hitting 29 home runs in his first 905 MLB plate appearances. He ended up striking a six-year, $33.5MM extension at the start of the 2017 campaign.

    Things haven’t progressed as hoped since that time, however. Piscotty missed some time due to injury and ended the year with 401 plate appearances of .235/.342/.367 output through 401 trips to the plate. On the positive side, Piscotty did neary double his walk rate to 13.0% even as his power dipped.

    Piscotty continues to grade as a solid defender but subpar baserunner. If he can regain his form at the dish, there’s good reason to think he could be a quality regular in the corner — which is just what the A’s are in search of.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals & Marlins “Making Progress” On Marcell Ozuna Swap]]> 2017-12-13T17:57:55Z 2017-12-13T17:53:23Z 11:53am: It seems St. Louis is still not fully zeroed in on Ozuna — or, at least, not just Ozuna. In addition to some pitchers to whom the club has been tied previously, the Cards still seem to have some possible interest in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Rosenthal tweets.

    And Bob Nightengale tweets the team is “optimistic” of scoring at least one significant hitter with the possibility of another. He also cites Longoria and adds Blue Jays Josh Donaldson as a player who is “in play” for St. Louis, though certainly most indications to date have been that Toronto has little interest in trading him.

    11:22am: The Cardinals and Marlins are “making progress” on a deal that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). These organizations have been tied in chatter of one kind or another for much of the offseason.

    We heard yesterday that the Cards were the favorites to land Ozuna. As of that time, though, there were multiple other suitors reportedly still involved and the Cardinals were also eyeing fellow Miami outfielder Christian Yelich.

    It is still unclear just how things might come together, but there are quite a number of possible ways the sides could line up. The Cardinals have a host of young outfielders, potentially offering Miami a direct replacement with greater future contract control, along with the sort of youthful pitching that the Marlins covet.

    As for Ozuna, he’d be the major stick the Cardinals have sought all winter. While he’s not at the level of former teammate Giancarlo Stanton, he did post an excellent .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 long balls in 2017. And Ozuna is also much friendlier to the checkbook, as he’s projected to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. That relatively light payroll hit might leave the Cards with capacity to make some other impact additions via free agency.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Reds, Cardinals, Pirates]]> 2017-12-13T09:30:05Z 2017-12-13T09:30:05Z Though the Reds didn’t ultimately make Shohei Ohtani’s list of seven finalists for his services, the team put together a detailed presentation in hopes of luring the two-way star to Cincinnati. Mark Sheldon of wrote an insightful article detailing the Reds’ pursuit of Ohtani; the team shared the contents of its presentation with and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Despite the fact that they could only offer him a maximum $300K signing bonus, GM Dick Williams and the entire Reds organization believed they could come up with a pitch attractive enough to sway Ohtani in their direction. “I’d like us to think that we might have a chance. I’ve followed this kid,” Williams said at the the beginning of the process. “I think he’s wired differently. He’s clearly shown he thinks out of the box.” The baseball operations, business, creative services, and marketing departments all worked together to tailor a presentation that included a 120-page book and 12-minute video. One of Cincinnati’s selling points was having Ohtani pitch in a six-man rotation (something he was used to doing in Japan), while playing the outfield and getting at-bats as a pinch-hitter. The Reds pulled out all the stops, including the addition of testimonials from Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former MVP Joey Votto. Though they ultimately came up short, the release of the presentation’s contents to the media is generous to say the least, and provides a rare and fascinating insight into the player recruiting process.

    More items from the National League’s Central Division…

    • Although he cautions that the club isn’t necessarily on the cusp of a big announcement, Cardinals GM Michael Girsch says that the club has “some sense of optimism” regarding their pursuit of a big bat (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). The Redbirds seem to have a desired hitter in mind, and reportedly feel good about their chances of acquiring him. “We’re not at the goal line, but we’ve made progress,” says Girsch. While Girsch himself didn’t mention any specific names, Goold notes in the article that the Cardinals have been linked to Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna, while the Marlins have shown interest in St. Louis pitchers Jack Flaherty and Sandy Alcantara.
    • A hitter isn’t the only thing the Cardinals are pursuing. Recently, they’ve been linked to Rays closer Alex Colome as a potential means to fill a clear need at the back end of their bullpen. Somewhat intriguingly, Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Colome began following four Cardinals-related accounts on his Instagram on Tuesday night (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Drew Silva). It could be nothing at all; social media activity certainly doesn’t have a strong correlation with transactional news. But while there are no reports of a deal in place, the flurry of follows has piqued curiosity and stirred the rumor mill. At the very least, it gives us another reason to closely monitor an interesting hypothetical.
    • Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are exploring the idea of adding a fourth outfielder through trade or free agency, in order to allow Jordan Luplow to begin the season at the Triple-A level. GM Neal Huntington notes that Luplow “didn’t have a ton of at-bats down there a year ago.” Indeed, Luplow only has 87 career plate appearances at Triple-A, and his .205/.276/.385 major league slash line indicates that his bat could benefit from more development at the minors’ highest level. The 24-year-old Luplow was drafted out of California State University Fresno with the Pittsburgh’s third-round pick; the right-handed outfielder is 24 years old, according to Fangraphs.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Interested Wade Davis, Talked To Jays About Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-13T00:18:46Z 2017-12-13T00:13:56Z The Cardinals are one of the teams interested in free agent closer Wade Davis, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  With St. Louis focusing on bullpen additions this winter, it only makes sense that they would check in on top-of-the-market names like Davis who could immediately step into the vacant closer role.  In fact, Passan said the Cards are “prioritizing late-inning help” to go along with their other notable relief signing of Luke Gregerson.  The Cardinals have been heavy players in the offseason rumor mill, connected to several big names on both the free agent and trade fronts, and GM Michael Girsch is “optimistic” (per’s Jenifer Langosch) that the team is close to swinging a deal after progress was reportedly made in trade talks.

    • The Cardinals’ Winter Meetings activities have also included talks with the Blue Jays about a Josh Donaldson deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  St. Louis has been rumored to be interested in Donaldson for some time, though there is still no indication that the Jays are considering moving the former AL MVP.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals “Favorites” For Marcell Ozuna; Multiple Teams Pursuing Christian Yelich]]> 2017-12-12T21:26:45Z 2017-12-12T19:12:40Z There’s plenty of interest in the Marlins outfield even now that it no longer features Giancarlo Stanton. We have heard lots of chatter surrounding Marcell Ozuna already, and there’s yet more intriguing news now emerging on him and teammate Christian Yelich.

    The Cardinals are emerging as the favorites from a six to eight team field to land Ozuna, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Word emerged earlier today that the Cards have interest in sending multiple, controllable outfielders in order to acquire one premium asset, though it’s not yet clear that’s what’s under contemplation. The teams are surely already quite familiar with one another’s feelings on prospects after negotiating over Stanton. And Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who has long noted the Cards’ interest in Ozuna and Yelich, reported earlier today that the sides might also line up on reliever Brad Ziegler.

    Meanwhile, the Cardinals are also among ten or so teams that have inquired on Yelich, per’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter), reflecting longstanding interest that has been covered in recent weeks. The Braves and Diamondbacks are also in that grouping, he notes. Both of those teams make for interesting potential trade partners; in both cases, the interest is likely driven more by their views on Yelich than need, per se.

    Clearly, there’s an interesting interplay here between the markets of these two productive teammates. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes on Twitter, Yelich is considered the more desirable asset given his lengthy, team-friendly contract. His report suggests the Fish would prefer to make a deal for Ozuna first, as the organization has given indications it would like to try to find a way to retain Yelich. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out given the multi-faceted considerations at play.

    While he only has two years of control remaining and will play at a projected $10.9MM in 2018, Ozuna is fresh off of a monster 2017 season in which he blasted 37 home runs and slashed .312/.376/.548 over 679 plate appearances. That handily outpaced Yelich, whose own .282/.369/.439 batting line represented a step back from an outstanding 2016 season. Still, many around the game are enamored of Yelich’s bat as well as his overall game, so he’s plainly the more valuable trade piece in light of the fact that he can be controlled through 2022. (His contract promises just $44.5MM, including a buyout on a $15MM club option for that ’22 campaign.)


    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Padres, Moose, Walker, Napoli, Cards, D-Backs]]> 2017-12-12T21:40:03Z 2017-12-12T18:49:37Z The Padres could play a major role in the market over the next few days, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes on Twitter. Indeed, the organization has already made one interesting move today. San Diego is looking around for a controllable shortstop and could conceivably match up with the Cubs, Passan suggests. (From an outside perspective, it seems ace reliever Brad Hand would be the most likely Padres piece to pique Chicago’s interest, but that’s just speculation.) Also, the team’s interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is seemingly increasingly serious. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets that the Friars are “strongly in [the] mix” for Hosmer, while Passan says the sides have gained “traction” in discussions.

    Here’s more from the position-player side of the market:

    • At this point, at least, the Braves are not engaged on the market for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). Atlanta does have interest in improving at the hot corner, but it seems that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is not all that intrigued by the powerful but OBP-challenged Moustakas. Of course, there’s still time for the market to develop.
    • Free agent second baseman Neil Walker is still looking for a four-year deal, according to Heyman (via Twitter). That seems like a lofty ask, though, for a 32-year-old player on a market full of possibilities at second. Walker has been a steady producer, to be sure, and finished with a strong .267/.409/.433 run with the Brewers, but with so many other options out there it seems more likely he’ll end up settling for a two or three-year guarantee.
    • The Mets have some interest in free agent Mike Napoli, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Indeed, the club’s new skipper, Mickey Callaway, has reached out to Napoli to discuss the possibility. (The two share a connection from the Indians.) Presumably, Napoli would share time with Dominic Smith at first base, with the organization arranging a natural platoon pairing and then allowing things to play out based upon performance.
    • As the Cardinals continue to seek ways to upgrade after missing on Giancarlo Stanton, they have been scanning the market for alternatives. The team’s preference, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to “turn two of their excess outfielders into one newcomer.” That would seemingly represent a fairly clean way to improve the roster, though of course it will likely also require a rather particular trade partner. It is not difficult to imagine such a team also wishing to receive a sweetener in exchange for giving up a premium asset for volume. There are plenty more details and quotes from the Cards front office in the post.
    • The Diamondbacks have been contacted by other organizations about the availability of their middle infielders, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Arizona certainly has quite some volume of MLB-level options up the middle, though it’s also not entirely clear at this point just which players (if any) have firmly secured places in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that market demand could help dictate the decisonmaking process, too, as the organization seeks ways to navigate a tricky payroll situation. Though none of the team’s top middle infielders are very costly, that very feature might allow the D-Backs to bring back equally affordable pieces that meet needs or perhaps structure a package deal to shed other salary. Chris Owings ($3.8MM arb projection) has only two years of control left, while Nick Ahmed ($1.1MM) has three and Daniel Descalso will hit the open market after earning $2MM in 2018. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury are still shy of arbitration.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[6 To 8 Teams Interested In Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-12T20:27:46Z 2017-12-12T16:42:00Z TODAY: The Rockies and Blue Jays are also among the interested teams, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

    YESTERDAY, 7:45pm: The Marlins are telling teams Ozuna would be easier to acquire than outfield mate Christian Yelich, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. That’s not surprising, as the 26-year-old Yelich is controllable by way of a team-friendly contract through 2022 and carries a more consistent track record than Ozuna.

    7:01pm: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is drawing interest from six to eight clubs, Joe Frisaro of reports (on Twitter). Along with the Cardinals, whose interest was already known entering Monday, the Giants and Nationals are among the teams in on Ozuna, per Frisaro. The Athletics are also still considering Ozuna, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slussser first reported their interest in Ozuna in early November.

    Two of these clubs – the Cardinals and Giants – have spent a large portion of the offseason engaging with the Marlins about right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and they even had deals in place to land the 2017 NL MVP. But Stanton nixed those trades before accepting a deal to the Yankees over the weekend, sending the Cards and Giants scrambling for other options. Ozuna makes for an appealing Plan B, then, as he’s coming off a season in which he slashed a career-best .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and a 4.8 fWAR over 679 plate appearances.

    In terms of production, last year was an outlier for Ozuna relative to the rest of his career – which began when he debuted in 2013 – but he has still accounted for at least 2.5 fWAR in three of four full seasons. At worst, Ozuna seems to be a solid regular, and the 27-year-old doesn’t come with an onerous, Stanton-esque contract. He’s controllable for two more years via arbitration and will earn a projected $10.9MM in 2018. That’s certainly an affordable figure, though it should also help the Marlins land a quality return for him. They’re obviously educated on both the Cardinals’ and Giants’ farm systems thanks to the Stanton talks.

    The Nationals, meanwhile, share a division with the Marlins, but that shouldn’t necessarily serve as a deterrent to a payroll-cutting Miami team whose primary goal in an Ozuna trade should be to bolster its weak system. Washington’s prospect pool is only the majors’ 18th best, per Baseball America (the outlet ranks the Cards’ 13th and the Giants’ 27th), but it seems that’s primarily because of a lack of depth. The top of the Nationals’ system is impressive, according to BA, and that could help pave the way for an Ozuna swap.

    With the Nationals at risk of losing Bryce Harper to free agency in a year, Ozuna might somewhat help cover for his potential exit in 2019. In the meantime, the Nats could perhaps use a left fielder to complement Harper in right and Adam Eaton in center. They do, however, have other in-house options in Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin. Taylor was particularly strong in 2017, yet the Nats may not be content with him functioning as a regular in 2018, if their interest in Ozuna is any indication.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Notes: Neshek, Mozeliak, Outfielders]]> 2017-12-12T08:04:40Z 2017-12-12T08:03:51Z
  • In another piece from Goold, Cardinals president of baseball ops John Mozeliak discussed his team’s first day at the Winter Meetings, saying that he mostly focused on trade talks, including in-person meetings with two unnamed teams.  The Cards are known to be shopping their outfield surplus, with Goold writing that the team is looking for a two-for-one outfielder swap to gain an everyday bat.
  • Before agreeing to a deal with the Cardinals, Luke Gregerson also received an offer from the Cubs, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Chicago has already landed Brandon Morrow and has been aggressively looking at several other relief options this winter, so it isn’t surprising that Gregerson was yet another name on their list of targets.  The Cardinals are also continuing to scour the reliever market, though Goold reports that they didn’t have interest in veteran Pat Neshek, who has agreed to a new deal with the Phillies.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Archer Drawing Plenty Of Interest]]> 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z Rays right-hander Chris Archer is drawing widespread interest early in the Winter Meetings, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Braves, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Cubs are some of the teams eyeing Archer, according to Topkin.

    Given that Archer’s one of the most valuable trade chips in the game, his popularity around the majors isn’t a surprise. He’d surely bring back a significant haul in a deal, thereby helping the Rays improve an already strong farm system, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be among the veterans the payroll-cutting club parts with this offseason. If the long-struggling Rays opt for a rebuild, which they may have to strongly consider in the wake of the division-rival Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it could indeed bring about the end of the 29-year-old Archer’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

    Archer has been with the Rays since they acquired him from the Cubs – who, as mentioned, seem to want him back – in a 2011 trade centering on righty Matt Garza. He turned into a front-line starter in 2013, his first full major league season, and has pitched to a 3.63 ERA/3.46 FIP combination with 9.72 K/9 against 2.94 BB/9 in 967 career innings. Archer’s a workhorse, too, having made no fewer than 32 starts four years in a row.

    Archer’s now fresh off his third straight 200-inning season, in which he racked up 201 frames with an ERA (4.07) that doesn’t do justice to his performance. After all, the flamethrowing Archer finished behind only Chris Sale, Robbie Ray and the reigning Cy Young winners – Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber – in K/9 (11.15). He also walked a respectable 2.69 batters per nine and placed seventh among starters in swinging-strike rate (13.4 percent).

    Archer’s track record on the mound is clearly enticing, and the fact that his contract is among the league’s most team-friendly pacts significantly adds to his value. He’s controllable for the next four years for $34MM, including club options for 2020 and ’21. If the Rays do make an earnest bid to move him, then, it’s likely to spark a bidding war.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Athletics’ Pursuit Of Outfielders]]> 2017-12-12T01:23:30Z 2017-12-12T01:23:11Z 8:15pm: More on the A’s outfield from Slusser, who reports that they’re also interested in one of Piscotty’s teammates, Grichuk, as well as the Reds’ Adam Duvall and the Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. As 30-home run hitters in 2017, Duvall and Souza would provide right-handed punch to the A’s lineup if acquired. They’re also controllable for the next few seasons – Duvall’s under wraps through 2021, including one pre-arbitration year, while Souza’s set to play his first of three arb-eligible campaigns in 2018. He’s projected to earn a very affordable $3.6MM. Grichuk’s another powerful righty entering his first of three arb years, though he didn’t fare as well as Duvall or Souza in 2017.

    Meanwhile, the A’s seem uninterested in moving one of their top offensive players, left fielder/designated hitter Khris Davis, per Slusser. They’ve spurned the Red Sox and other teams that have inquired about Davis this winter.

    1:04am: The Athletics continue to have interest in the Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported and’s Jane Lee discusses in a video link. Oakland has been on the hunt this winter for right-handed hitting outfield help.

    A previous connection between Piscotty and the A’s surfaced in the aftermath of the trade deadline, as the Cardinals reportedly floated an offer of Piscotty and either Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty to Oakland in exchange for Sonny Gray.  Those talks never really got off the ground, however, and the A’s subsequently dealt Gray to the Yankees.

    As Lee mentions in the video, “the A’s have interest in a ton of outfielders right now,” with the team particularly focused on right-handed bats who are controllable, so the A’s aren’t only looking at veteran options.  The Athletics are clearly willing to shop near the top of the trade market, however, as such names as Avisail Garcia of the White Sox and Marlins outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich (a left-handed hitter) have already been reported as landing on Oakland’s radar in talks.

    Piscotty wouldn’t cost as much in a deal as those aforementioned names, given how he struggled in 2017.  After signing a six-year, $33.5MM extension with the Cardinals in April, Piscotty went from building block to potentially expendable piece by hitting just .235/.342/.367 with nine homers over  401 plate appearances.  Groin and hamstring injuries didn’t help his cause, and Piscotty was even demoted to Triple-A in August for a brief spell.

    Still, Piscotty posted strong numbers in his first two big league seasons, he doesn’t turn 27 until January, and the Cards are less than a year removed from locking him up on what could still be a team-friendly extension.  Under normal circumstances, St. Louis wouldn’t be looking to deal a player like Piscotty (especially when his trade value has been lowered), though the club must create room within a crowded outfield picture.  Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham locked into everyday outfield spots next year, leaving just one corner spot for Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and prospects Magneuris Sierra, Tyler O’Neill, and Harrison Bader.  The Cards may also add another everyday outfielder — they’ve also been linked to Ozuna and Yelich in trade speculation, and J.D. Martinez is a possibility for a Cardinals lineup looking for a big bat after missing out on Giancarlo Stanton.

    This surplus makes St. Louis a logical trade partner for an Oakland team that is short on established outfielders.  Boog Powell and top prospect Dustin Fowler are the top candidates for center field, while Matt Joyce, Jake Smolinski, Chad Pinder and Mark Canha will be in the mix for playing time in the corners.  Piscotty would step into one of those corner spots for everyday duty right away, and the $30.5MM owed to him over the next five years (counting a $1MM buyout of his $15MM club option for 2023) is a palatable price tag even for a smaller-market team like the A’s.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Cardinals' Possible Corner Options]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals are now scanning the rest of the market for offensive upgrades. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag looks at the team’s possible options, including free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. He notes that several upper-echelon third basemen might hold appeal on the trade market — which will come as little surprise to those that have followed the Cards’ trade rumblings for the last several months. Of course, it’s still unclear whether the Blue Jays (Josh Donaldson), Rays (Evan Longoria), or Orioles (Manny Machado) will make their stars available.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cardinals, Rockies “Aggressively Pursuing” Alex Colome; Mets Also Have Interest]]> 2017-12-11T15:51:02Z 2017-12-11T15:49:38Z 9:49am: The Mets and possibly also the Cubs are engaged on Colome, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, it seems most teams with clear late-inning needs appear to have shown at least some level of interest in the youthful, controllable hurler.

    6:56am: The Cardinals and Rockies have their sights firmly set on Alex Colome. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that both teams are “aggressively pursuing” the Rays closer.

    Though the Cardinals signed Luke Gregerson to a one-year pact only yesterday, it seems they’re not done adding to a bullpen that saw former closer Trevor Rosenthal tear the UCL in his throwing elbow this past season and then watched Zach Duke, Juan Nicasio and Seung-Hwan Oh depart in free agency. Earlier this offseason, Jeff Todd mentioned Alex Colome as a potential trade target when he examined the Cardinals’ search for a closer. Notably, the Rays have room for improvement in left field, whereas the Cardinals have an abundance of young outfield talent.

    The Rockies have plenty of young players to offer as well, though their strength comes mostly in the form of starters. They are, of course, looking to replace closer Greg Holland. Holland signed a one-year pact with Colorado last offseason and had a strong bounce back season, saving 41 games for the Rockies. Ultimately, he rejected both his player option and a qualifying offer, leaving Colorado with a hole to fill in the back end of their bullpen.

    Colome will enter the 2018 season at the age of 29. He’s spent his entire career with the Rays, and though he came up as a starter, he transitioned to a relief role during the 2015 season. Early in the 2016 season, Colome took over as Tampa Bay’s closer and has been solid for them ever since. The right-hander led all of baseball with 47 saves last season, and sports a 2.64 ERA to go with a 48.4% ground ball rate and 9.43 K/9 since taking over the closer role. Colome projects to earn $5.5MM in arbitration this year, and comes with two more years of team control beyond that.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Have Shown Interest In Addison Reed, Brandon Morrow]]> 2017-12-10T18:40:35Z 2017-12-10T18:40:35Z
  • The Cardinals have had talks with the agents for relievers Addison Reed and Brandon Morrow, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At one point this offseason, there was “momentum” toward a deal between Reed and the Cardinals, a source told Goold, but it seems this winter’s slow-to-develop relief market has helped prevent an agreement from coming to fruition. Whether he signs with the Cardinals or another team, the soon-to-be 29-year-old Reed is in position to end up as one of this winter’s richest relievers.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Cardinals "Very Interested" In Jose Abreu]]> 2017-12-10T16:35:24Z 2017-12-10T16:35:24Z The Red Sox are “very interested” in White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, which runs contrary to previous reports. The Cardinals are also after Abreu, Cafardo adds, which isn’t surprising for a team that just lost out on Giancarlo Stanton and continues to seek a power bat. Abreu, who will turn 31 in January, slashed .304/.354/.552 with 33 home runs in 675 plate appearances last season. He comes with two years of arbitration eligibility and will earn a lofty sum – a projected $17.9MM – in 2018. The White Sox want “top prospects” for Abreu, per Cafardo.


    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals "Badly Desire" Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-10T14:26:07Z 2017-12-10T14:23:55Z
  • There’s no desperation on the Marlins’ part to trade second baseman Starlin Castro, whom they’ll acquire from the Yankees when the teams’ Giancarlo Stanton trade becomes official, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. With a reasonable $22MM left on Castro’s contract over the next two years, the Marlins believe they’re in position to “wait for the right offer,” per Nightengale. Meanwhile, the Fish are entertaining offers for outfielder Marcell Ozuna, whom the Cardinals “badly desire,” Nightengale notes. Ozuna will make a projected $10.9MM in his penultimate arbitration-eligible season in 2018, and he’s coming off a career year, so moving him would help the Marlins further slash their payroll and improve their weak farm system in one fell swoop.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers]]> 2017-12-09T21:10:26Z 2017-12-09T21:10:26Z Though the Cardinals weren’t able to convince Giancarlo Stanton to waive his no-trade clause, they may yet be able to work out a trade with the Marlins. Specifically, rival execs say they expect the Redbirds to make a “legit pitch” for fellow outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets. Crasnick describes a deal for Ozuna or Yelich as more of a “pure baseball trade” than a deal for Stanton, adding that he believes that’s more in the confines of St. Louis GM John Mozeliak’s comfort zone. While it would require a lot more in terms of prospects to land one of the Marlins’ remaining outfielders, previous negotiations for Stanton could potentially expedite trade talks. It stands to reason that the two teams should already be quite familiar with each others’ valuations on several Cardinals prospects. Furthermore, the Cardinals may have already evaluated avenues for what to do with Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty in the event they are able to acquire a new outfielder. It will be interesting to see if anything unfolds between these two teams during the winter meetings.

    • The Cubs have their sights set on Rays pitchers Alex Colome and Chris Archer, Phil Rogers of reports with a tweet, though he acknowledges that getting both in one swoop would require a “monster return.” From my point of view, it seems difficult to imagine that the Cubs could put together a package worthy of Archer alone; their farm system is devoid of top 100 prospects following several promotions over the past few seasons, coupled with trades for players such as Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Quintana. Archer alone would require at least some players from the major league club. It’s tough to know whether giving up one or more of Ian Happ, Javier Baez or Kyle Schwarber (to name just a few examples) in exchange for pitching would significantly improve the major league team. The top three names in the Cubs’ farm system (according to MLB Pipeline) are right-handed pitchers Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Albertos and Adbert Alzolay.
    • Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details some of Brewers GM David Stearns’ comments about the upcoming winter meetings. Last year, Stearns had no idea he’d gain enough traction in talks for Travis Shaw to actually complete a trade during the meetings. “You’re never really sure which one will be the one you get a foothold on,” Stearns said. “Last year, we were able to get that foothold in the Shaw talks and get a deal done.” Haudricort describes adding to a thin starting rotation as a “major priority” for Stearns this winter, noting that Jimmy Nelson might not be healthy in time for Opening Day. Beyond Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, there aren’t any definite fixtures in the rotation. Josh Hader performed well in the bullpen last year, but the notion of transitioning him back to a starting role remains simply a “topic of discussion.” Stearns notes that Hader’s role with the team will depend on how the offseason shakes out, as well as continued internal dialogue about how he fits best on the team. The only thing Stearns would commit to is that Hader will be in a “position to accumulate innings.” On the notion of that the Brewers could pursue big-ticket names like Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, Stearns had the following comment: “Our market and our history here probably is a better indicator of the types of moves we’re seeking than some of the external speculation.”
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Details On Cardinals' Offer For Stanton]]> 2017-12-09T07:27:43Z 2017-12-09T06:35:16Z
  • Both the Giants and Cardinals are now out of the running to land Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, but their pursuits still carry some information worthy of note. In the case of San Francisco, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links) that many of the players rumored to have been in the teams’ agreed-upon trade package were not, in fact, slated to be moved. None of Joe Panik, Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, Heliot Ramos, and Christian Arroyo would have been dealt, per the report. Meanwhile, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Cards would have absorbed about $250MM of the $295MM still owed to Stanton.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giancarlo Stanton Informs Cardinals He Will Not Waive No-Trade Clause]]> 2017-12-08T22:06:11Z 2017-12-08T21:47:45Z The Cardinals have announced that they have been informed that Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will not waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to St. Louis. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted the full statement.

    Miami had put deals in place with both the Cards and the Giants, allowing Stanton to speak with both organizations before deciding whether to approve a deal. (With full no-trade rights, he controls the process.) It’s not certain at present whether a final decision has been issued with regard to the San Francisco organization, but we heard last night that there are indications the Marlins star is disinclined to go there, too.

    The Cardinals expressed disappointment that Stanton had decided against joining the organization, but surely have had backup plans on their mind from the get-go. That could even include pursuit of some other notable Marlins outfielders, though there are a wide variety of directions which St. Louis could take.

    As for Miami, this is a less-than-ideal development — unless, perhaps, Stanton is willing to go to the Giants. If both of those top suitors fall through, the Fish will need to go back to the drawing board. While yesterday’s news suggested the Dodgers and Yankees could still be brought into the hunt, indications are that those organizations won’t be willing to take on anything approaching all of Stanton’s sizable salary.