photo: Francisco Peña, Mike Maddux, Adam Wainwright (Scott Kane/USA TODAY Sports)
Just when I think that perhaps I have seen it all, I bring you a first – at least for me. I am announcing a free agent signing NOT made.
The St. Louis Cardinals have NOT signed catcher Francisco Peña to a minor league contract for 2019 with a spring training invitation.
For those who were unaware of the reason for this announcement, I will explain. For those who may have seen reports elsewhere of Peña signing with the club, I will also explain.
When the calendar flipped over to December, MLB.com transaction pages did the same. On December 1, the Cardinals page for this month showed (and still does today) a December 8, 2018 transaction.
This transaction is the re-signing of Francisco Peña to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training camp.
I immediately questioned this for two reasons.
First, I do not recall having ever seen a future transaction listed – for any team at any time.
Second, I recalled (and quickly confirmed via the same site) that Peña’s prior contract was also effective on December 8 – of 2017.
I surmised that this is not an odd coincidence, but instead just a clerical mistake, starting with discussion at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board on the evening of December 1.
It is also worth noting that despite this transaction entry having been up for three days, none of the team’s regular beat writers have written in articles or mentioned this supposed signing on social media (to the best of my knowledge).
That would be a third yellow flag.
I had planned to ignore this and wait it out to see it eventually corrected. However, since others (including ESPN and Rotoworld) have picked up on this future entry, assuming it to be fact – likely because it is on the official team website – I decided to take action on Monday.
From a Cardinals organization official, I have confirmed that Peña does not have a contract with the club for 2019 – now or effective on December 8, 2018.
Like Peña, 2018 Cardinals catcher Steven Baron has departed as a minor league free agent and both remain unsigned for next season. Peña is currently playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.
As of now, Carson Kelly looks to be penciled in as Yadier Molina’s reserve with St. Louis in 2019. Contenders for Memphis catching jobs are likely to include prospect Andrew Knizner, recent free agent signing Joe Hudson and Arizona Fall League catcher Jeremy Martinez.
The Cardinals could certainly still add another veteran catcher as insurance for 2019, but it is not Peña, at least at this time.
Update late Monday afternoon
Corrections are being made. MLB.com and Rotoworld follow.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.