Cardinals Acquire Lefty-Hitting Utilityman Drew Robinson

photo: Drew Robinson (Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals had stated the need for a left-handed hitting utility player, and they added one in a trade announced Tuesday afternoon. Drew Robinson is coming from the Texas Rangers in return for Patrick Wisdom. It is St. Louis’ second roster addition in two days, following Monday’s claim of pitcher Ryan Meisinger off waivers from Baltimore.

Drew Robinson (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

Robinson, 26, was Texas’ fourth-round draft pick in 2010 from a Las Vegas high school. Though he reached Triple-A briefly in 2014 and 2015, the 2016 season was his first significant action at the level.

Like Wisdom, Robinson spent the majority of the last three seasons in the Pacific Coast League, with the difference that Robinson made his MLB debut in 2017 and appeared in a total of 95 games for the Rangers over the last two seasons. Wisdom first came up to St. Louis this past August and logged 32 games in the bigs. He was St. Louis’ supplemental first round selection in the 2012 draft.

In 259 career games at Triple-A, Robinson’s slash line is .272/.366/.502/.867 with 42 home runs and 142 RBI. His Triple-A OPS this season against right-handed pitching was a lofty 1.051. With Texas, however, his overall line was just .204/.301/.366/.667.

As with some other power hitters, including Wisdom, comes strikeouts. Of concern is that Robinson’s strikeout rate at Triple-A increased from 23.9 percent in 2017 to 34.9 percent this season. With Texas, his whiff rate was a whopping 45.6 percent.

Patrick Wisdom (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

While Wisdom is a third baseman who can play first as well, Robinson has appeared at every position on the diamond other than pitching and catching. In terms of most minor league games played, his top spots have been third base, second base and right field. In the majors, the Rangers used him most in center field, so he is a true utilityman.

Robinson was added to Texas’ 40-man roster in November 2016. In 2017 and 2018, he made the major league club both springs, but was optioned to Triple-A three times in 2017 and twice in 2018. He also had two relatively short disabled list stints in 2018, one due to a hip injury. In other words, he has one minor league option year remaining.

The trade is 40-man roster neutral, as the Cards’ remains full.

Brian Walton’s take

I had expected St. Louis to go after a more seasoned veteran, and based on post-trade comments by GM Michael Girsch, that is still in the team’s plans. We will have to learn more about Robinson together, but he offers interesting power with high strikeouts and has many gloves.

His acquisition puts a bit more pressure on the club to deal with the redundancies of infielder Jedd Gyorko and first baseman-outfielder Jose Martinez. Also, Yairo Muñoz could get bumped back to Memphis if Robinson becomes an addition to St. Louis’ bench.

Whether Robinson ends up with Memphis or St. Louis, he will address the same LHH imbalance. The only left-handed hitters on the Triple-A roster are Max Schrock, who is exposed in the Rule 5 draft, and outfielder Justin Williams, acquired from Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham trade in July, plus switch-hitting infielder Tommy Edman.

Wisdom was a good organizational player and a model individual, but like Luke Voit before him, seemed blocked by the glut of corner infielders with St. Louis. All things considered, I am glad The Cardinal Nation’s 34th-ranked prospect for 2019 will get a chance with a new team at the age of 27.

Perhaps not coincidentally, just after this trade was announced, the Rangers picked up a more experienced infielder, perhaps as a replacement for Robinson.

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