photo: Kwang-Hyun Kim (Dan McLaughlin)
The 2019-2020 off-season for the St. Louis Cardinals was heavy in rumors but decidedly light in terms of actual player movement.
On one hand, the club said goodbyes to 48 players who had been part of the organization in 2019. That was up 12 from the winter before.
At the other end of the pipeline, 21 players entered the organization since the end of last season, down from 30 the year before. A bit surprisingly, the largest concentration is the addition of five players to the 40-man roster, though two are returnees from 2019.
Of the 21 new recruits, the vast majority, 16, are pitchers with the other five being position players. 12 were free agents (including four first-time international signees), three were trade acquisitions, one was claimed off waivers, the contracts of two were purchased from independent teams and three joined the Cardinals via the December Rule 5 draft.
In the tables below, these new Cardinals are broken into pitchers and position player columns. The horizontal groupings are based on their assignments – 40-man roster, minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to big league spring training camp, veteran minor league free agents, trade and waiver acquisitions, veteran minor league signings, Rule 5 additions and international free agents.
40-man roster (5)
|40-man (5)||Adam Wainwright||RH||FA||Matt Wieters||C||FA|
|Kwang-Hyun Kim||LH||FA||Austin Dean||OF||Trade|
A winter after two major 40-man roster additions in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and reliever Andrew Miller, the Cardinals made more moves in raw numbers, but with players expected to have a lower impact.
The battery of Adam Wainwright and Matt Wieters are welcome returnees and trade acquisition Austin Dean offers outfield depth, but will need a huge spring to join the other four on the season-opening 26-man roster.
Veteran utilityman Brad Miller was signed this past week to a one-year contract and should offer some left-handed hitting thump off the bench.
Arguably the top addition is Korean left-handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, who will either step into the rotation if Carlos Martinez is not ready or serve as a long man in the bullpen.
Free agent non-roster invitees (4)
|NRI FA (4)||Rob Kaminsky||LH||FA||Oscar Hernandez||C||FA|
Just four of the 32 NRIs in MLB camp are newcomers, and one of them, lefty reliever Rob Kaminsky, was originally drafted by St. Louis. None of these newbies are in a strong position to come north with St. Louis.
Catcher Oscar Hernandez will likely play the veteran depth role with Triple-A Memphis while right-handers Akeem Bostick and Nabil Crismatt could start or perhaps be asked to become long relievers for the Redbirds.
Trade acquisitions (2)
|Trade (2)||Matthew Liberatore||LH||TB||Edgardo Rodriguez||C||TB|
Acquiring national top 100 prospect Matthew Liberatore from the Rays came at a relatively steep price – two outfielders off the 40-man roster (Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena). However, the lefty, who is currently in St. Louis’ spring training camp, helps fill a big pitching gap in the system.
Joining Liberatore from Tampa Bay is a very young but promising catcher, Edgardo Rodriguez.
Waiver addition (1)
|Waivers (1)||Ricardo Sanchez||LH||Sea||none|
The Cardinals were willing to say goodbye to a decent infield prospect in Ramon Urias to make roster room for former Seattle left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez. With no experience above Double-A, the 23-year old will compete for the Memphis rotation with many others.
Minor league additions (2)
The list of minor leaguers added this past off-season who are not invited to big-league camp is substantially shorter than last the last two years – consisting of just two players, down from 10 two years ago and six last spring.
|Minors (2)||Liarvis Breto||RH||FA||none|
26-year old reliever Liarvis Breto has been in the Seattle and Detroit systems as well as in independent ball. He has never pitched above Double-A. Speaking of indy ball, that is from where the Cardinals recently acquired the contract of another right-hander, Grant Black.
Rule 5 additions (3)
|Min Rule 5 (3)||Jordan Brink||RH||Mil||none|
The ongoing theme of adding pitching depth should be clear by now. All three of the Cardinals’ pick-ups in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft call the mound home.
Jordan Brink and Jacob Bosiokovic should offer depth help in the upper levels of the system while former Rockies prospect Enrique Saldana is more of a long-term play.
International signees (4)
Prior to the addition of this most recent group of four teenagers, the Cardinals had already signed another 29 international free agents between July 2nd and October, including three who suited up in 2019.
Little is known – or at least has been written – about the most recently-added quartet, but note the common theme. All are pitchers.
It seems highly likely that all four will begin their professional careers on one of the two Cardinals clubs in the 2020 Dominican Summer League, though their specific team assignments will not be known until late May.
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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