photo: Drew Robinson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)
The 2018-2019 off-season for the St. Louis Cardinals had several major bursts of activity in terms of player movement.
On one hand, the club said goodbyes to 37 players who had been part of the organization in 2018. That was up nine from the winter before.
At the other end of the pipeline, 30 players have entered the organization since the end of last season. Almost half of them, 14 to be precise, are international teenagers, most likely set to intern in the Dominican Summer League, as the Cardinals move into their second year of having two teams in the entry rookie-level circuit.
Of the 30 new recruits, 19 are pitchers with the other 11 being position players. 24 were free agents (including 14 international signees), two were trade acquisitions, one was claimed off waivers, the contract of one was purchased and two 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 initial Cardinals assignments – 40-man roster, minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to big league spring training camp, veteran minor league free agents and international free agents.
40-man roster (3)
A winter after reworking the roster by adding seven 40-man roster players, the Cardinals lowered the total to just three this winter. Only pitcher Andrew Miller can be considered a long-term addition, with a new three-year contract, though the Cardinals have expressed hope of luring Paul Goldschmidt into staying with the organization long-term.
The third is utility man Drew Robinson, who is in the midst of a battle to make the team and otherwise will play for Memphis.
|40-man (3)||Andrew Miller||LH||FA||Paul Goldschmidt||1B||Trade|
Non-roster invitees (7)
Seven of the 25 NRIs in MLB camp are newcomers. Of these newbies, one player seems to be in a strong position to come north with St. Louis, though his identity remains unclear. Clearly, veteran Matt Wieters has the inside track with re-signed Francisco Peña the dark horse to the the reserve catcher behind Yadier Molina.
The five non-roster pitchers likely will not make the team, but they still have a prime opportunity to impress for the future. Ryan Meisinger was initially added to the 40-man roster via a waiver claim, but was later outrighted to Triple-A.
|NRI (7)||Hunter Cervenka||LH||FA||Joe Hudson||C||FA|
|Williams Perez||RH||FA||Matt Wieters||C||FA|
Minor league additions (6)
The list of minor leaguers added this past off-season who are not invited to big-league camp is shorter than last year – consisting of six players, down from 10 the year before. They joined the organization in one of three ways – as a free agent signee, a Rule 5 draftee or by having their contract purchased by the Cardinals.
|Minors (6)||Pitchers||Thr||Acq||Position Players||Pos||Acq|
|Harold Arauz||RH||FA||Martin Figueroa||C||Purch|
|John Fasola||RH||R5||Alberto Triunfel||SS||R5|
Four of the six are pitchers, three of whom are at the Double-A or Triple-A level. One who caught my eye is John Fasola, who was the Rangers’ system-wide Reliever of the Year in 2016 and pitched in the Arizona Fall League to close that season. His career since has been plagued by injury. Fasola was picked up by St. Louis in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
Panamanian right-hander Harold Arauz had a good winter campaign, including success in the Caribbean Series, but the competition for starting berths at Memphis and Springfield are shaping up to be fierce.
Of the six, those two plus free agent signee pitcher Dylan Rheault are among the 31 prospects invited to the Cardinals early minor league camp, STEP Camp.
International signees (14)
Prior to the addition of this more recent group of 14 teenagers, the Cardinals had already signed another 10 international free agents since July 2nd, including four who suited up in 2018. The plum of the early crop – and likely the entire two dozen – is third baseman Malcom Nunez, the DSL Triple Crown winner in 2018.
Nine of the newest group are pitchers, including two left-handers.
This is the second of the Cardinals’ two penalty years as the result of their unprecedented signing and spending spree in the 2016-2017 class.
|International||Oliver Lopez||RH||FA||Brandon Hernandez||3B||FA|
|(14)||Diorys Guerrero||LH||FA||Miguel Marcos||CF||FA|
|Jesus Jaquez||RH||FA||Fernando Brazoban||OF||FA|
|Hancel Rincon||RH||FA||Smith Vargas||OF||FA|
|Benjamin Arias||RH||FA||Erick Thomas||IF||FA|
Little is known – or at least has been written – about the most recently-added 14. This should not be surprising, given the Cardinals are prohibited from offering more than $300,000 signing bonus to any individual player.
The latest two to join the group were signed on February 14. Right-handed pitchers Yonael Dominguez and Eduar Pimentel are 17-year olds from the Dominican Republic.
It seems highly likely that all 14 will begin their professional careers in the 2019 Dominican Summer League, though their specific team assignments (Red vs. Blue) 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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