Cardinals Add Infielder Jose Fermín from Cleveland

photo: Jose Fermin (Jeff Lange via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Wednesday, November 9) that they have acquired minor league infielder Jose Fermín (fair-MEAN) from the Cleveland Guardians for cash considerations and selected his contract to the 40-player roster.

Fermín, 23, batted .215/.336/.322 (58-270) with six home runs, 11 doubles, and 31 RBI in 90 games for Columbus (AAA) last season. He additionally worked 42 walks against only 46 strikeouts in 330 plate appearances.

Jose Fermín

The Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic native has played six seasons in the Guardians minor league system since signing with Cleveland as an International free agent in 2015.

Voted Best Defensive Infielder in the Cleveland organization by Baseball America in 2019 and named an organizational all-star by, the right-handed batter has appeared defensively in 177 career games at second base, 117 games at shortstop, and 104 games at third base.

Additionally, St. Louis announced that they have reinstated pitchers Alex Reyes and Drew VerHagen from the 60-Day Injured List to bring the Cardinals 40-player roster to 38 players.

Brian Walton’s take

The Cardinals apparently see more in Fermín than his long-time organization, Cleveland.

This move puts Fermín in a position to compete for a middle infield reserve position with St. Louis against incumbent Paul DeJong and others. However, for Fermín to maximize his value, he will need an effective return to shortstop, a position he stopped playing for the Tribe. Focusing on second and third base alone may not be enough.

Offensively, Fermín has good contact skills, but his glove is clearly his calling card.

His career slash line, compiled in 415 games since 2016, is .259/.348/.366/.714. Fermín stole 28 bases in 2019, but just 13 (against eight caught) over the two full seasons since.

A professional scout very familiar with Fermínn said, “I like him. I just don’t think he has a high ceiling.” That ceiling, if Fermin can handle shortstop, would probably be as an MLB reserve.

With Fermín’s time in the minors, the 40-man roster move was required to keep him from becoming eligible for free agency. One positive is that the Cardinals have up to three years to evaluate and further develop Fermín as this is his 40-man debut.

My conclusion is that Fermín is considered to be a partial step up from Kramer Robertson, who lost his own roster spot recently, but one should not consider him a starting candidate in the majors.

On The Cardinal Nation’s Roster Matrix, Fermín has been placed at Triple-A Memphis, the same level at which he performed in 2022.

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