Cardinals Pitcher Jordan Hicks Opts Out of 2020 Season

photo: Jordan Hicks with pitching coaches Bryan Eversgerd and Mike Maddux (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

 St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Monday, July 13) that pitcher Jordan Hicks has opted out of the 2020 season, citing pre-existing health concerns.

“We respect and understand Jordan’s decision to opt out this season,” stated Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “We wish him well as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery, and we look forward to seeing Jordan back on the mound for the 2021 season.”

Jordan Hicks

Hicks, 23, is currently recovering from “Tommy John” elbow surgery performed last June.  The hard-throwing Hicks appeared in 29 games last season (2-2, 3.14 ERA & 14 saves) before his 2019 campaign was ended.  Hicks’ career mark stands at 5-6 with a 3.47 ERA and 20 saves in 102 games.


Brian Walton’s take

The Cardinals bullpen takes another blow with this news. While media had already been informed that Hicks would open the regular season on the injured list, his return was expected during August, at which time he could have joined a committee of closers.

Hicks had reported to camp and was among the organization’s pool of 60 eligible players for the season, but has decided to sit out. His Type 1 diabetes almost certainly was a major consideration in his decision. So could have been his personal assessment of MLB’s protocols in action, but this is only speculation.

This was his message to fans on Twitter.

With his pre-existing conditions making him high-risk. Hicks will receive his salary as well as a full year’s service time . With service time of 3.000 as a result, Hicks will become first-time eligible for salary arbitration for the 2021 season. The official  transaction by the team was to place Hicks on the Restricted List.

Once thought to be a strength of the 2020 Cardinals, the bullpen is now in some trouble, a group that was already missing John Brebbia for the season. In addition, presumptive closer Giovanny Gallegos along with Alex Reyes are not in camp with no arrival date known. Further, Genesis Cabrera has twice tested positive for COVID-19. The lefty, while asymptomatic, is also out indefinitely.

A number of pitchers I did not originally project on the Opening Day 30-man roster now seem to have a fighting chance to make the team. They include Junior Fernandez, Jake Woodford, Kodi Whitley and Johan Oviedo. The former two hold 40-man roster spots, but Brebbia and Hicks being out for 2020 could free up two more if needed.

The closer’s role was already in limbo and now is even more so. Carlos Martinez stepped into the job when his stamina kept him out of the rotation, but the right-hander wants to start and his manager says he deserves to do so. Further, Martinez has been impressive as a starter in camp.

Candidates to take the ball to protect a narrow lead in the ninth could include Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb, both lefties, and right-handers John Gant, Junior Fernandez and Ryan Helsley.

Update

On Tuesday, July 14, manager Mike Shildt explained that Hicks had suffered shoulder inflammation resulting from his prior throwing session and was put into “no-throw” status. That delayed his targeted August 18 return into sometime in September. Given that Hicks was unlikely to contribute this season, the decision for him to sit out for the entire season was straightforward.


For more

To view the Summer Camp roster and 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.


For more

As manager Mike Shildt and selected players meet with the media after daily Summer Camp practices, summaries of their comments are posted on The Cardinal Nation’s free message board. (A userid is not required to read forum comments.)

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