After missing the postseason for the third straight season, another roster shake up is expected for the Cardinals this offseason. They will be trimming more fat, so to speak, and dumping players who have no value to the club. Below are five guys that will likely fall victim to the turnover.
This is an interesting situation. Brett Cecil will probably not be with the Cardinals come opening day 2019. However, it may be one of the only times a player gets dumped for being exactly what he was when he was signed.
Before coming to St. Louis, Cecil pitched for eight seasons in Toronto. There, he went 41-42 with a 4.20 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.340 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9. In his two seasons since Mozeliak signed him for $30.5 million to be a Cardinal, his numbers are nearly exactly the same. Cecil has a record of 3-5 in St. Louis with a 4.86 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.470 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.7 K/9. Ultimately, he’s been the same player he was in Toronto. Somehow, that caught everyone in Cardinals nation, including the front office, by surprise. Now, after two years of being the same mediocre pitcher he was in Toronto, the Cardinals are finally set to cut ties with him.
Cecil is still owed $14.5 million by the Cards. However, they can afford to eat that money more than they can afford two more years of him blowing games out of the bullpen. It’s safe to say he won’t be back with the team next season.
Though not as safe of a bet as Cecil, Jose Martinez probably won’t be back in 2019, either. If he is, it’s because no one else wanted him. Martinez still isn’t eligible for arbitration, which means he’s going to be cheap again next season. That, combined with his production, makes him a good trade chip for the Cardinals.
Martinez led the team in averages this season at .305. He also hit 17 homers, drove in 83 runs and posted an OPS of .821. The problem is, the Cards already have a first baseman and they have plenty of options in the outfield that are actually capable of playing the outfield. Martinez’ hitting, cheap contract and atrocious defense make him attractive to an American League team. St. Louis needs relief pitching more than they need another bad defender, so if they can find a good partner on the junior circuit, Jose will be as good as gone.
Matt Adams seems like an obvious choice to move on from, but stranger things have happened. His situation is similar to that of Martinez. The only two positions he plays are first base and a bad outfield, and that doesn’t make him very valuable to the Cardinals.
Unlike Martinez, Adams didn’t have a very good year at the plate. Aside from hitting 21 home runs, Matt slashed .239/.309/.477 and only drove in 57 runs. He’s also set to be a free agent. That means the Cardinals don’t have to find a trade partner or eat any money; they can simply just let him walk. More than likely, that’s exactly what they’ll do too.
Another fairly easy decision for the Redbirds will be to not renew the contract of Francisco Pena. Pena has less value to the team than Adams, and has zero trade value either.
This season, in 58 games, Pena hit .203, with an OPS of .510, two home runs and eight RBI. There is no place on the roster for a bad backup catcher who can’t hit. It makes more sense to let Carson Kelly fill the back up role, give Andrew Knizner the everyday job at Triple-A and let Pena walk.
Matt Bowman is arbitration eligible, and the Cardinals would likely win the case after his 2018 campaign, but it’s more probable that they will just non-tender him. They’ve squeezed everything they can out of him and it’s time to throw him away.
Bowman had a very good 2016 season and a decent 2017, but this year was a disaster. He only appeared in 22 games, thanks to injury, and posted a 6.26 ERA and a 4.73 FIP. The Rule 5 selection of Bowman has overall turned out to be a good decision, but he has nothing left to offer the Cardinals. With better, younger arms on their way, and the possibility of landing new relievers via trade, Bowman is almost guaranteed to not be back in 2019.
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