Cards Drop Two, Release Rosenthal, Make Qualifying Offer to Lynn

photo: Trevor Rosenthal (USA TODAY Sports Images)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Alberto Rosario (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Monday) that the team has outrighted infielder Alex Mejia and catcher Alberto Rosario off the team’s 40-man Major League roster and gave right-handed pitcher Trevor Rosenthal his unconditional release.   Mejia will be assigned to the Triple-A Memphis roster and Rosario is now eligible to become a minor league free-agent.

The Cardinals also announced today that they have tendered a qualifying offer to free-agent pitcher Lance Lynn.

Following today’s moves, the Cardinals Major League roster currently stands at 35 players.

Brian Walton’s take

Alex Mejia (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

To be outrighted, Mejia and Rosario had to clear waivers, meaning none of the other 29 teams had a spot for them on their 40-man rosters.

Mejia is a good fielder who receives high marks for leadership, but does not seem to have enough bat to stick in the Majors. The infielder remains in the organization and could earn another shot later.

Speaking of second shots, Rosario had been added for September catching depth. The same exact outright occurred at this time last year as well, but Rosario was offered and accepted a return to the Cards on a minor league deal for 2017. Will it happen a third time?

Lance Lynn (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The move with Lynn was to ensure St. Louis will receive a compensatory draft pick when the right-hander signs with another organization. He will certainly turn down the qualifying offer of a one-year contract for $17.4 million in favor of a lucrative multi-year deal as a free agent. (I explained this situation in depth for The Cardinal Nation members here.)

Rosenthal was going to make too much money via arbitration for a rehabbing pitcher in his final year before free agency. (Last month, I wrote in detail about his situation for members here.)

Trevor Rosenthal (USA TODAY Sports Images)

While his release was expected like the other moves, it is still worth remembering that Rosenthal is the last to remain of the trio of young relievers who made up the core of the Cardinals bullpen since 2013. Yet none of the three – Seth Maness (now 29 years old), Kevin Siegrist (age 28) and Rosenthal (27) – lasted long enough with St. Louis to reach six years of service time and associated free agency that Lynn is preparing to enjoy.

Maness was non-tendered by the Cardinals last December and Siegrist departed via a waiver claim in September. Monday, it was Rosenthal’s turn to be cut loose. All three had struggled with injury and reduced effectiveness, Last year, I wrote about their heavy early-career workload under manager Mike Matheny (free article).

Yet through it all, Rosenthal was still The Cardinal Nation’s St. Louis Reliever of the Year in 2015 and again in 2017. The hard-throwing right-hander leaves the Cardinals with the fifth-most saves in franchise history, his 121 just six less than Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter earned with St. Louis. Rosenthal’s save conversion percentage of 85.8% is just behind Lee Smith (86 %) and ahead of Jason Isringhausen, Dennis Eckersley, Sutter and Todd Worrell among Cardinals closer greats.

Perhaps St. Louis’ best 21st-round draft pick ever, Rosenthal was a 2015 National League All-Star. That year, the native of Lee’s Summit, MO went on to set the new Cardinals single-season team record with 48 saves.

Still, when all is said and done, the Cardinals need relief help immediately and Rosenthal cannot contribute from the DL. The identity of his replacement as closer for the 2018 club is yet to be determined.

What is next

The Cardinals are faced with Rule 5 protection decisions for a number of prospects, including Tyler O’Neill, Oscar Mercado and Austin Gomber, as well as needing 40-man roster room for free agent signings. As a result, further roster reductions are possible, whether via waivers or trades, between now and the November 20 deadline.

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