photo: Dexter Fowler (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Nolan Arenado trade finalized
Following the initial news on Friday, January 29 that the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies had came to terms on the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado to St. Louis, the complicated deal became final on Monday, February 1 when official approval from both MLB and the MLB Players’ Association was secured. Along with the official announcement came some of the details of the trade.
The official list of Cardinals players going to the Rockies was completely different from the rumored names discussed on Friday. Only one player from the initial list, LHP Austin Gomber, was included in the final trade. Along with Gomber, the Cardinals sent 3B Elehuris Montero, SS Mateo Gil, and RHPs Tony Locey and Jake Sommers to Colorado. The Friday group rumored to be in the trade were OF Jhon Torres, 1B Luken Baker, and RHPs Jake Woodford and Angel Rondon, all of whom remain Cardinals.
Cardinals fans are familiar with Gomber, who made 14 appearances on the mound in 2020, four as a starter. As a combined starter and reliever, he finished the season with an ERA of 1.86.
Montero, 22 was a 40-man roster player who spent the entire 2020 season at the Cardinals Alternate Training Site in Springfield. The third baseman was The Cardinal Nation’s #7 Cardinals prospect but had yet to see any major league playing time.
The 20-year old Gil was the 2018 third-round draft choice of the Cardinals and is the son of former MLB infielder for the Rangers and the Angels, Benji Gil. Mateo played at Johnson City in 2019 and ended the season at Palm Beach. Gil is TCN’s #22 ranked prospect.
Locey, a right hander, was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2019 draft. He played very briefly for the GCL Cardinals before moving up to pitch in 10 games for the Peoria Chiefs. The 22-year old is ranked by TCN as the Cardinals #19 prospect.
Sommers, 23, unranked by TCN, was the Cardinals 10th round choice in the 2019 draft. Also a right hander, Sommers pitched in 12 games in 2019 for the Johnson City Cardinals.
Arenado’s contract includes opt outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons, full no-trade protection, and an additional year (2027) tacked on to the back end of his contract at a salary of $15 million. The Cardinals also received $51 million from the Rockies which includes Arenado’s $35 million salary for 2021, $15 million of which will be paid to the Cardinals in 2021, and the remaining $20 million will be deferred.
Dexter Fowler dealt to the Angels
In a surprise move, the Cardinals traded RF Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels in return for a player to be named later or cash. The trade was not signalled before the announcement came on Thursday night.
The 34-year old Fowler is entering the final year of his five-year, $82.5 million dollar contract he signed prior to the 2017 season. Fowler had full no-trade protection, but he waived it to go to the Angels, a team led by his former Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
Fowler’s four years with the Cardinals were mostly unremarkable. His worst season by far was in 2018, in which he slashed a miserable .180/.278/.298 in a season ended prematurely by a broken foot from a foul ball. He rebounded somewhat in 2019 to hit .238/.317/.409 with 19 home runs. He missed a part of the 2020 season with a recurrence of a stomach ailment and finished the season hitting .233 with four home runs. Of his four seasons with the Cardinals, only his 2017 season was above average at the plate. Though he played some CF during his first two seasons, he moved to RF for his final two Cardinals seasons. He was not a strong defender at either position, being primarily an offensive outfielder.
The Cardinals originally intended to use 2020 to see what they had with their young outfielders, but a season considerably shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic put a wrench in that plan. The subtraction of Fowler opens up 2021 as the season of reckoning for the young outfield instead.
The Cardinals will pay $12.75 million of Fowler’s $14.5 million 2021 salary, signalling the move was not intended as a salary dump, but instead to free up playing time. The Cardinals will likely begin the 2021 season with an outfield of Carlson in RF, Harrison Bader in CF, and 2020 Gold Glover Tyler O’Neill in LF with Lane Thomas, Justin Williams and Austin Dean in reserve.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Last week, the Cardinals added to the roster by trading for All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado for five players. In addition, the Cardinals inked a deal for the return of RHP Adam Wainwright for another season. The return of C Yadier Molina is rumored to be in the offing and would likely happen sometime following the Caribbean Series, which ended on Saturday. As of this writing, no announcement has occurred.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted that the Cardinals were actively looking at free agent starting pitchers. Among those pitchers were Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch followed Feinsand’s report with a tweet confirming that Odorizzi is a pitcher in whom the Cardinals are interested.
- 2/1 The Cardinals traded LHP Austin Gomber, 3B Elehuris Montero, SS Mateo Gil, RHP Tony Locey, and RHP Jake Sommers to the Colorado Rockies for 3B Nolan Arenado and cash.
- 2/4 The Cardinals traded RF Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash.
There are no new injuries to report.
The Cardinals and RHP Jack Flaherty will proceed to an arbitration hearing this month. A date and time for the hearing has not been revealed. Each side submitted a salary figure on January 15 for the consideration of an arbitration panel – Flaherty at $3.9 million and the Cardinals at $3 million. After consideration of evidence submitted by both sides, the arbitrators will choose one of the two numbers as the 2021 salary for Flaherty.
Cardinals spring training is scheduled to begin on February 17 when pitchers and catchers will report. Position players will follow on the 22nd. Last week, MLB submitted a proposal to the MLBPA for a delay to both spring training and the regular season. The offer included universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs. On Monday, February 1, the MLBPA officially declined MLB’s proposal. Therefore, the season is expected to proceed on the normal schedule absent any additional negotiations.
St. Louis’ first spring training game is scheduled for Saturday, February 27 against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. A time for the game is to be determined, but spring games generally begin at 1 p.m. local time, 12 noon CT. Ticket sales had been put on hold during the above discussions, but should become available soo.
Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith: 1987-1991
In this next installment of the Blast From the Past series on Ozzie Smith, we take a look at Smith’s five years from the 1987 season through 1991. This five-year span begins with Ozzie’s third and final trip to the World Series.
1987 season was Smith’s pinnacle season with the bat. Known primarily for his defense, his offense steadily improved in over his first five seasons with the Cardinals. That year, Ozzie hit .303. He was named to his seventh consecutive All-Star Game and received his eighth consecutive Gold Glove Award at shortstop. He also finished second in the NL MVP voting and won his only Silver Slugger.
The Cardinals went to the postseason again in 1987 following a 95-67 record and the NL East Division title. The Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS in seven games but Smith did not perform well at the plate. He hit .200 for the series with only five hits and one RBI. He batted only slightly better in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins with a slash line of .214/.267/.214 with six hits and two RBI. The Cardinals lost the Series to the Twins in seven games.
The Cardinals had a losing season in 1988, with a 76-86 record and a fifth place finish in the NL East, 25 games back of the New York Mets. Ozzie slashed .270/.350/.336 and earned his eighth All-Star Game berth and ninth consecutive Gold Glove.
The Cardinals rebounded with an 86-76 record in 1989, finishing third in the NL East. Ozzie continued to accrue Gold Gloves and trips to the All-Star Game while hitting .273. In 1990, Smith hit .254/.330/.305 in 143 games but returned to the All-Star Game and won his 10th consecutive Gold Glove in a losing 70-92 season that included the resignation of Whitey Herzog in mid-season. Red Schoendienst took over on an interim basis until Joe Torre was hired to finish the season.
Smith played the 1991 season under Torre and the Cardinals rebounded with an 84-78 season good for second place, 14 games back of the 98-win Pittsburgh Pirates. Ozzie rebounded from his down 1990 with a slash line of .285/.380/.367 in 150 games. He won his 11th Gold Glove, went to the All-Star Game for the 10th time and finished 20th in the NL MVP voting.
Smith’s final five seasons with the Cardinals began much like his previous five but ended with the team being sold and a contentious relationship with his new manager. That will be detailed here next week.
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