St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 21-27

photo: John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Brebbia signs with the Giants

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever John Brebbia has signed a one year major league deal with the San Francisco Giants.

John Brebbia

The 30-year old right hander underwent Tommy John surgery during the summer and may not be ready for an on-time start to the 2021 season.

Brebbia, who was first year arbitration eligible, was not offered a contract by St. Louis by the December 2 tender date.  The team did not rule out signing the reliever to a minor league deal, but that option is now off the table with his big-league contract with the Giants. Its amount is reported to be for $800,000, the amount Brebbia was expected to earn in arbitration.  The decision by the Cardinals not to tender a contract was reported to not be financially-driven, but for roster flexibility.

Brebbia made his MLB debut with the 2017 Cardinals and emerged as a reliable reliever over the last three seasons.  The right hander was added from the Diamondbacks in the minor league phase of the December 2015 Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants will have two additional years of control beyond 2021 over Brebbia, with him holding arbitration eligibility in each.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There continues to be no news, or movement on the possible return of Yadier Molina or Adam Wainwright.

Derrrick Goold of the Post Dispatch writes that the Cardinals are seeking “cash-neutral” possible trades, given the uncertainty of the coming season’s revenues.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival has gone virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo:  1997 to present

This week’s Blast is the final installment of the series chronicling the baseball career of the “Secret Weapon”, former Cardinals player and current coach Jose Oquendo.

Last week, we ended with the final season of Oquendo’s playing career, 1995. That year he slashed .209/.316/.300 in 88 games.  Oquendo returned to spring camp in 1996 but failed to make the Opening Day roster under new manager Tony La Russa.  He chose to retire after 12 years in the big leagues, the final 10 of which were with St. Louis.

Oquendo’s time in baseball was not over, however.  Jose accepted a position coaching in the Cardinals minor league system in 1997. In 1998, Oquendo became the manager of the Cardinals minor league team the New Jersey Cardinals. The New York-Penn League team was the Cardinals Class A short season A affiliate based in Augusta, New Jersey.  The young Cardinals finished the 1998 season with a record of 34-41, for fourth place in the division.

Oquendo did not spend long toiling in the minor leagues.  In 1999, the Cardinals promoted Jose from minor league manager to big league bench coach in St. Louis under La Russa.

After one season as bench coach, Oquendo moved to third base coach in 2000.  Jose remained in that position for the next 16 consecutive seasons.  His long career as third base coach included being ejected from a game against the Phillies on June 13, 2008.  La Russa had been thrown out earlier in the game after arguing the ejection of his pitcher Russ Springer for throwing an inside pitch to Ryan Howard.  Several innings later, Phillies pitcher Rudy Seanez retaliated by throwing a pitch behind Brendan Ryan without any consequences, which caused Oquendo to argue from his coaching box.  Oquendo was then tossed by umpire Larry Vanover.

Oquendo also made a pinch hitting appearance in a preseason exhibition game with the Memphis Redbirds on April 2009.  Oquendo drew a walk and advanced to third before being stranded on an inning ending groundout.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo was ejected one more time for arguing balls and strikes in an August 17, 2012 game against the Pirates.

Oquendo was granted a medical leave of absence for the 2016 season to undergo dual knee replacement surgeries.  Jose was replaced as third base coach by Chris Maloney.  In 2017, Oquendo was named Special Assistant to the GM and worked at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter training minor league players.

Jose returned to his former third base coaching box for the 2018 season.  He did not continue in that role for 2019 but remained in the organization in player development.  Jose opened 2020 heading the staff at the Cardinals alternate camp in Springfield, but returned to his third base coaching role on an interim basis covering for Willie McGee. The former outfielder opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns following an early season outbreak of the virus among Cardinals players and staff that kept them off the field for 17 days.

Jose Oquendo (USA TODAY Sports)

Jose’s long career with the Cardinals as both a player and a coach has had staying power. He seems likely to continue indefinitely, but stay tuned to find out for sure.


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