Cardinals Acquire Reliever Juan Nicasio

photo: Juan Nicasio (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired a veteran reliever for the final few weeks of the 2017 season in return for a former top 20 second base prospect in the system.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have acquired right-handed reliever Juan Nicasio (pronounced nih-KAH-see-oh) from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor league infielder Eliezer Alvarez.

Juan Nicasio (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Nicasio, 31, had joined the Phillies just last week (August 31) on a waiver claim from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The 6-4, 250-pound Dominican native has combined to go 3-5 with a 2.79 ERA in a National League-leading 67 games between Pittsburgh (65 games) and Philadelphia (2 games) in 2017.   Nicasio, has fanned 61 batters in his 61.1 innings of work this season, walked only 18, and he’s allowed just four home runs while holding the opposition to .218 batting mark, including a .200 average vs. left-handed batters.    His 21 Holds rank T5th in the National League this season and his 1.09 WHIP is ranked 15th among all N.L. relievers.

Nicasio, who debuted with the Colorado Rockies in 2011, has appeared in 260 career games (82 starts) with the Rockies (2011-14), Los Angeles Dodgers (2015), Pittsburgh (2016-17) and Philadelphia (2017), putting together a career mark of 35-37 with a 4.60 ERA in 618.2 innings pitched.

Eliezer Alvarez (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

A free-agent at season’s end, Nicasio will make every effort to join the Cardinals in San Diego for the conclusion of their road trip that includes games both tonight and tomorrow night.  He would not be eligible for postseason play should the Cardinals qualify.

Alvarez, 22, was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted international free-agent on July 2, 2011 out of Santiago, Dominican Republic.   The 5-11, 190-pound middle infielder batted a combined .248 with 5 HR’s and 28 RBI in 61 games between Springfield (AA) and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (R) in 2017.

Nicasio has been assigned uniform no. 12.

Brian Walton’s take

The Cardinals clearly need bullpen help and finally made a small investment in 2017 at the expense of the future. But this month, will Nicasio really be a difference-maker – where that means making the playoffs?

When Nicasio was waived by Pittsburgh, the Phillies wisely put in a claim, even though they are out of contention in 2017. Philadelphia then flipped their new acquisition for a 40-man roster second base prospect.

Alvarez was added to St. Louis’ roster last fall for Rule 5 protection after a standout 2016 with Peoria, during which he was named TCN’s Cardinals Minors Player of the Year. However, after jumping to Springfield in 2017, his progress stalled, in part due to injury.

At this point, Alvarez, who had dropped to 24th in The Cardinal Nation’s most recent prospect list from #16 over the winter, did not appear to be a threat to Kolten Wong’s job. Had he been removed from the 40-man this offseason, he likely would have been claimed and if so, the Cardinals would have received nothing. Instead, they get three weeks of Nicasio.

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