photo: Jose Martinez (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
With St. Louis Cardinals major league camp open, it is time once again to focus on the promise of the new season. Before 2019 is officially forgotten, however, it seems appropriate to say goodbye one last time to a group of 48 players who became ex-Cardinals since the close of last season. (Only two later returned for 2020.) This total is significantly higher than the 36 departures the winter before and just 28 from two years ago.
The largest group to leave the organization is typically releases and this year was no different. The largest segment of the 29 players cut loose (28 minor leaguers plus MLB pitcher Dominic Leone) were 10 short-season pitchers, an area in which the Cardinals as an organization was weak in 2019.
St. Louis had 11 players become free agents following the 2019 season, one fewer than in each of the prior two years. Five were off the major league roster with the other six minor league free agents. This year, two major leaguers re-signed with the Cardinals for 2020, leaving a net of nine losses in this area.
The Cardinals lost four additional players via trade, all outfielders – three off the 40-man roster. Two others were claimed off waivers as the club removed them from the 40-man roster. Two minor leaguers were also lost in December’s Rule 5 draft.
All 48 are outlined in the following.
Major league free agents (5-2)
Of the five major league free agents, three are pitchers.
|MLB FA (5-2)||A. Wainwright (resign)||RH||StL||Matt Wieters (resign)||C||StL|
|Michael Wacha||RH||StL||Marcell Ozuna||OF||StL|
Starter Michael Wacha has a new home for 20202, joining the New York Mets. Lefty Tony Cingrani, who joined St. Louis while rehabbing from shoulder surgery last summer to give the Dodgers salary cap relief, remains unsigned. The Cardinals receive a draft pick for not signing outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who joined Atlanta.
For the second consecutive year, Adam Wainwright signed a relatively low-dollar, incentive-laden deal to return to St. Louis for what will be his 13th season. Veteran catcher Matt Wieters also returned, but this time was given a big-league contract from the start.
|MLB trade (3)||none||Jose Martinez||OF||StL|
|Minors trade (1)||none||Diowill Burgos||OF||GCL|
This area was rather busy this winter – in one area – as the Cardinals reworked the outfield part of the roster with trades. Departing were three members of the 40-man roster – Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena and Adolis Garcia – along with minor leaguer Diowill Burgos.
Major league waivers (2)
|MLB waivers (2)||Mike Mayers||RH||StL||Ramon Urias||2B||Mem|
Other teams were interested in two players for whom the Cardinals no longer had room. Mike Mayers was snapped up by the Angels when St. Louis moved to take the reliever off the 40-man roster. Infielder Ramon Urias joined the Orioles in the same way just this week.
Major league releases (1)
|MLB release/||Dominic Leone||RH||StL||none|
Arbitration-eligible reliever Dominic Leone was released in November, clearing a 40-man roster spot prior to the Rule 5 draft.
Minor League Rule 5 Draft (2)
|Minors Rule 5 (2)||none||Brian O’Keefe||C||Spr|
Though the Cardinals were inactive in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December, the organization lost two players in the minor league phase. Both Springfield catcher Brian O’Keefe and State College first baseman Dariel Gomez were selected by Seattle. Neither are required to be returned to St. Louis.
Minor league free agents (6)
With the Cardinals having released a number of minor leaguers during the season, only six remained who were eligible to declare free agency for 2020.
|Minors FA (6)||Merandy Gonzalez||RH||Spr||Joe Hudson||C||Mem|
|Zac Rosscup||LH||Mem||Johan Mieses||OF||Spr|
Interestingly, five of the six were former 40-man roster players, though only three there were on the Cardinals’ roster – reliever Chasen Shreve, catcher Joe Hudson and pitcher Merandy Gonzalez. Of the trio, only the latter did not appear with St. Louis.
Williams Perez had previously pitched with the Atlanta Braves, but was nowhere near able to help St. Louis in 2019. Same with lefty journeyman reliever Zac Rosscup, who had been with the Dodgers most recently.
None of the six were homegrown. The last one, Springfield outfielder Johan Mieses, had joined the Cardinals from the Dodgers in trade two years ago when Breyvic Valera lost his 40-man spot.
Minor League releases (28)
A whopping 28 2019 Cardinals left the organization via release, up from 16 during the same period a year earlier. Then again, with two Dominican Summer League teams feeding the same number of US teams as before, more releases will become the norm.
(And this is ignoring for now the 70 player jobs that would be eliminated if State College and Johnson City lose their affiliation in 2021, as proposed by MLB.)
|Minors release (28)||Andrew Morales||RH||Mem||Cole Kreuter||OF||PB|
|John Fasola||RH||Spr||Zack Gahagan||3B||PB|
|Sam Tewes||RH||PB||Josh Shaw||2B||Peo|
|Ben Yokley||RH||PB||Luis Flores||IF||SC|
|Franyel Casadilla||RH||Peo||Brandon Purcell||C||SC|
|Dionis Zamora||RH||Peo||Cameron Knight||C||SC|
|Junior Gonzalez||RH||SC||Raffy Ozuna||3B||JC|
|Hector Villalobos||LH||SC||William Jimenez||OF||JC|
|Alex Gallegos||RH||JC||Kevin Vargas||IF||JC|
|Wilberto Rivera||RH||JC||Diomedes Del Rio||OF||JC|
|Enrique Perez||RH||JC||Jean Selmo||OF||GCL|
|Anthony Trompiz||RH||GCL||Alexander Samuel||OF||DSL|
|Hector De Los Santos||RH||DSL|
16 are pitchers, with 10 having been pared from the short-season ranks. Nine of the 12 position players never reached full-season ball.
The biggest surprise may be former second-rounder Andrew Morales, who had received a major league spring training camp invitation as recently as last spring. However, the right-hander has struggled with injury in recent seasons.
A net of 46 players left the Cardinals organization since the end of last season – nine from the 40-man roster and 37 minor leaguers. 24 are pitchers, with the other 22 being position players.
In Part 2 of this annual series, I will take on a similar analysis of all the new Cardinals who have arrived for 2020.
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.
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