photo: Yairo Munoz with Riley Unroe (David Dermer/Imagn)
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Saturday, March 7) that they have reduced their Spring Training roster by 14 players, leaving 57 players in Major League camp.
The team today announced that pitcher Ricardo Sánchez and infielder Elehuris Montero have both been optioned to the Springfield (AA) roster, and pitcher Alvaro Seijas has been optioned to the Palm Beach (A) roster.
In addition, the team re-assigned the following non-roster invitees to the minor league camp: Akeem Bostick (rhp), Nabil Crismatt (rhp), Seth Elledge (rhp), Alex FaGalde (rhp), Griffin Roberts (rhp), Angel Rondón (rhp), Ramón Santos (rhp), infielder Luken Baker and catchers Julio Rodríguez and Alexis Wilson.
The team also announced that infielder Yairo Muñoz has been placed on Unconditional Release Waivers.
Brian Walton’s take on Muñoz
The major surprise is the release of Muñoz. However, as media reports provided further details about the infielder having left the team without notice and returning home to the Dominican Republic, it makes sense.
According to manager Mike Shildt, the 25-year old repeatedly complained about a lack of playing time in 2019, likely in part due to the emergence of Tommy Edman. The latter soaked up over 350 plate appearances after arriving in St. Louis in June and performing at a very high level.
One report indicated that Muñoz saw the “writing on the wall” concerning his role in 2020, which led to his departure from the team. The reality is that ever since veteran Brad Miller was signed on February 12, Muñoz’ role seemed to have been determined – a return to Triple-A when healthy. (Same for fellow infielder Edmundo Sosa, against whom Munoz was expected to compete for a roster spot prior to Miller’s arrival changing the apparent pecking order.)
Until his release, Muñoz appeared destined to open the season on St. Louis’ injured list, having suffered a relatively significant hamstring strain on February 29. He would have received big-league salary at least until ready to be activated. Likely, he would have been optioned to Memphis at that point, but could have been the next man up when an injury occurred.
In early spring action, the right-handed hitter performed well. Muñoz’ slash line in 16 plate appearances was .375/.375/.625/1.000. He was successful in his only steal attempt, captured in the photo above.
Regarding the timing, according to reporter Jeff Jones, tomorrow – Sunday, March 8 – is the final day a player can be released without a team owing him his entire salary. This way, the Cardinals are on the hook for just one-sixth of Muñoz season salary, which was undoubtedly slated to be close to the MLB minimum of $563,500.
His release clears a spot on St. Louis’ 40-man roster. Muñoz held a spot there ever since he and infielder Max Schrock were acquired from the Oakland A’s in return for outfielder Stephen Piscotty on December 14, 2017.
Before the details behind Muñoz departure became clear, it was easy to speculate that roster spot was earmarked for non-roster outfielder Dylan Carlson. While that could end up being the case by the end of camp, the specifics of the Muñoz case seem to stand on their own.
Brian Walton’s take on the other roster moves
None of the first cuts were a surprise. Minor league camp begins this coming week and the Cardinals had far too many players in big-league camp. Innings for these youngsters were few and far between, especially as the pitchers seriously contending for the roster are stretching out. In a direct relationship, the extra catchers are needed to catch the extra pitchers.
Do not read anything into the level assignments for the optioned players. That reflects where they ended last season. Where they open 2020 will be determined by performances in minor league camp ahead.
Eight members of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List for 2020 are among those sent down: Montero (no. 4), Rondon (no. 9), Baker (no. 19), Rodriguez (no. 21), Seijas (no. 22), Roberts (no. 23), FaGalde (no. 29) and Elledge (no. 31).
The Cardinals had mentioned above that they have 57 players in camp, while my count was 60. After some digging, I have determined the discrepancies.
Short-season catchers Aaron Antonini and Pedro Pages have also been assigned to minor league camp, though unannounced.
In addition, Kramer Robertson, brought in early last week due to infield injuries, was never officially added to big-league camp and will open with the others this week in minor league camp.
From Monday, March 9:
INF Yairo Muñoz has cleared outright release waivers and is now a free agent.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 9, 2020
What is next
Many more cuts will be announced over the final two and a half weeks of camp. I wrote about my mid-camp Opening Day roster predictions here:
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!
© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.