St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 30-December 6

photo: Rangel Ravelo (Jon Durr/Imagn)

Cardinals tender contracts to five arbitration eligible players

December 2 was the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players as well as pre-arb players. The St. Louis Cardinals announced that evening that of the five of their six arbitration eligible players were tendered contracts.

The five players guaranteed to be back for 2021 include right-handed pitchers Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, John Gant, and Jordan Hicks.  Also tendered a contract was center fielder Harrison Bader, who was the only position player with arbitration eligibility.

Rangel Ravelo (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Not tendered a contract was RHP John Brebbia.  The Cardinals also did not tender a contract to 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo, who was not yet arbitration eligible.

Of the five tendered players, Flaherty, Reyes, Hicks and Bader were arbitration eligible for the first time.  Gant is entering his second year of arbitration.  The next day, the right hander agreed to his 2021 contract terms with the Cardinals, and will be paid $2.1 million.

The remaining four have until January 15 to settle with the team on their 2021 salaries.  Should agreements not be reached by the January 15 deadline, each side will submit a salary figure, with the next step a hearing with an arbitrator sometime in February.  An agreement on a contract can be reached anytime before a hearing is held.

John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Brebbia and Ravelo have become free agents and will be seeking a contract with another team.  Brebbia missed the entirety of the 2020 season as a result of his Tommy John surgery on June 3, 2020.  The right hander is continuing rehab and has begun a throwing program but may not be ready for the start of the 2021 season.  The Cardinals have expressed interest in signing Brebbia to a minor league contract should he not get a major league contract elsewhere.

Ravelo was not yet arbitration eligible after making his debut in 2019.  He had limited playing time in 2020 and the Cardinals have other options such as Austin Dean and John Nogowski to step into the bench player role.  Ravelo’s spot on the roster was tenuous because he is out of major league options.

For further details:

Two Cardinals Go Non-Tender in the Night

Gant, Cardinals Come to Terms on 2021 Contract

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals are among several teams with interest in free agent catcher James McCann.  The Cardinals continue to have interest in re-signing Yadier Molina, but McCann could be an option should talks with Molina not bear fruit and he signs with another team.

Transactions

  • 12/2 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo has become a free agent.
  • 12/2 RHP John Brebbia has become a free agent.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • The Winter Meetings begin this week and continue through December 10. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on Thursday to conclude the event.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players who have yet to settle – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All are first time arbitration eligible.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wvu.  The events will take place January 16-18, 2021. The traveling Cardinals Caravans will not be held this year.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo: His early life in baseball

Last week’s Blast was the final installment of the series on Cardinals manager and Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog.  This week we begin a short series on one of Whitey’s players, the man known as the “Secret Weapon”. Jose Oquendo played 10 seasons with St. Louis and continued his post-playing career as a coach and instructor with the eam.

Jose Oquendo

Jose Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras was born on July 4, 1963, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.  In 1979, at the age of 15, Oquendo was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets.  Oquendo was assigned to the Mets’ short season Class A team, the Grays Harbor Loggers of the Northwest League following his signing on April 15, 1979.  In his first professional season, Oquendo played in 64 games, 63 at shortstop and one at second base.  Oquendo slashed .227/.329/.277 in that first season, with one home and 14 RBI.

Oquendo was promoted to the Class A Lynchburg Mets of the Carolina League for the 1980 and 1981 seasons.  Jose played in 109 games in 1980 and 124 games in 1981, all at shortstop.  His hitting in his first season in Lynchburg was poor, with a line of only .169/.280/.223.  He improved to .249/.366/.300 in 1981.  As it turned out, the 1981 season was his best hitting results during his years in the Mets organization.

Oquendo jumped to the AAA Tidewater Tides of the International League in 1982.  There, he slashed .214/.298/.255 in 114 games.  He continued to play all of his games at shortstop.

Jose made his major league debut with the Mets on May 2, 1983 in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.  Oquendo made a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth inning and grounded into a force out.  Jose slashed .213/.260/.244 in 120 games with the Mets that season.

Jose Oquendo

In 1984, Oquendo bounced back and forth between Tidewater and New York.  He played in 81 games with the Mets, slashing .222/.284/.249.

On April 2, 1985, Oquendo was traded to the Cardinals along with Mark Davis, for John Young and Angel Salazar.  Jose would spend the entire 1985 season with the Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, the Louisville Redbirds.

During Oquendo’s time with the Mets, he played shortstop only.  Once traded to the Cardinals, that changed, as they already had a shortstop, a man named Ozzie Smith.  So, when Oquendo finally made his debut with St. Louis in 1986, the team decided to experiment with making him a utility player.

Next week, we will cover Oquendo’s early years with the Cardinals.


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