photo: Kolten Wong (Jeff Curry/Imagn)
Cardinals decline option on Kolten Wong
On Wednesday, October 28, St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced in a Zoom call with media members that the team had declined the 2021 option for second baseman Kolten Wong. The option was for $12.5 million. The Cardinals will pay a $1 million buyout to Wong and he has officially become a free agent.
Mozeliak stated that the move was to bring “payroll flexibility” to the team, which faced reduced revenues from gate receipts due to the Covid-19 shortened season. The Cardinals are anticipating reduced payroll for 2021 and have already made cuts to personnel in baseball operations.
The Cardinals have $116.75 million committed to nine players with guaranteed contracts and six arbitration eligible players likely to receive raises, assuming they are all offered contracts.
The Cardinals also intend to pursue free agents Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and have “left the door open” for future talks with Wong, though Mozeliak was non-committal about any efforts to re-sign the Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman.
Tommy Edman has been tabbed as Wong’s replacement for 2021.
All Cardinals Coaches to Return for 2021
In his Zoom review, Mozeliak also confirmed earlier reports that the entire St. Louis coaching staff will return for 2021. This includes oft-questioned hitting coach Jeff Albert and coach Willie McGee. The latter opted out of participating in 2020 due to COVID concerns.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 2, 2020
Three Cardinals are Gold Glove Award finalists
Finalists for the NL and AL Gold Glove awards have been announced and three Cardinals are on the list of the top three finishers at their respective positions. They are Paul Goldschmidt at 1B, Kolten Wong at 2B and Tyler O’Neill in LF. The winners of the award will be announced on November 3 at 7 pm CT on ESPN.
Goldschmidt is up for his fourth Gold Glove. Wong was a winner in 2019. O’Neill is a first-time nominee.
The Cardinals had six finalists for the Gold Glove Awards in 2019 but only Wong received the prize. Goldschmidt was a finalist but did not win. Catcher Yadier Molina, a nine-time winner, was a finalist in 2019 but not in 2020, causing him to lash out via social media. Other Cardinals finalists in 2019 but not in 2020 were CF Harrison Bader, SS Paul DeJong, and P Jack Flaherty, all first-time finalists.
Wong and O’Neill win Fielding Bible Awards
The cross-MLB winners of another key defensive award were announced on Thursday. Kolten Wong picked up his third consecutive Fielding Bible Award at second base and left fielder Tyler O’Neill was recognized as the game’s top defender in left field in the sabermetrically-focused voting.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
David O’Brien and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Atlanta Braves have interest in signing free agent Adam Wainwright. Wainwright became a free agent on Wednesday, October 28, the day following the end of the World Series. The quiet period for exclusive negotiations with the Cardinals ended at 4 pm CT on Sunday. Wainwright can now be signed by any team.
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that four teams, including the Cardinals, have reached out to Yadier Molina with interest in signing the catcher. Molina became a free agent along the same calendar as Wainwright.
Goold also reported that Kolten Wong, who became a free agent when the Cardinals declined his 2021 option, has received interest from the Los Angeles Angels and several other teams.
- 10/28 C Yadier Molina, C Matt Wieters, 2B Kolten Wong, 2B Brad Miller, and RHP Adam Wainwright have all elected free agency.
- 10/30 The Cardinals activated RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia from the 45-day injured list.
- 10/30 The Cardinals sent LHP Ricardo Sanchez, and RHP Nabil Crismatt outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 10/30 2B Max Schrock was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.
To view the entire Cardinals system, by position and team, as well as all free agents and every transaction across the organization, check out the Roster Matrix, free here at the Cardinal Nation.
- RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia were activated from the 45-day injured list, as required by MLB rule. Hudson and Brebbia are expected to miss all or part of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery. Hicks and Mikolas are expected to be ready to pitch for the opening of spring training 2021.
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right, throwing elbow. Goldschmidt is expected to be ready to play for spring training 2021.
- LHP Ricardo Sanchez required Tommy John surgery, which was conducted in St. Louis two weeks ago.
The offseason has officially begun. Listed below are dates for key offseason events:
- 11/2 Finalists for Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced during a live broadcast on MLB Network at 5 pm CT.
- 11/3 Gold Glove Award Winners will be announced during a live broadcast on ESPN at 6 pm CT. Three Cardinals, 2B Kolten Wong, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, and LF Tyler O’Neill are top three finishers.
- 11/9-11/12 Winners of the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced on MLB Network at 5 pm CT on consecutive days.
- 11/11 Deadline for free agents to accept or decline a qualifying offer is by 4 pm CT. No Cardinals have been made a qualifying offer and only six players did across all of MLB.
- 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
- 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
- 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
- 12/6-12/10 The annual Winter Meetings were to be held in Dallas, TX. 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 also be virtual.
- 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes. All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible. Gant is in his second year of eligibility.
Blast from the Past
The final installment of the series on Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, highlight’s Gibson’s post-playing career. Gibson was with the Cardinals from 1959 until his retirement from baseball in 1975.
Gibson hung up his spikes in the last month of the 1975 season. In the early 1970s, prior to his retirement, Gibson had done some broadcasting work for ABC. Following his retirement, Gibson was hired to do broadcasting work on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball for a couple of seasons. The former Harlem Globetrotter also provided basketball commentary for a radio station in New York and subsequently for WTBS in Atlanta.
In the mid-1980s, Gibson hosted a Cardinal pre-game and post-game show for St. Louis radio station KMOX. In 1990, Gibson worked for ESPN’s baseball broadcast but quit after one season.
The native of Omaha, Nebraska became involved in commercial ventures there. He was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of Community National Bank of Omaha, which primarily served the local black community. He also had a financial stake in a local radio station for several years and was briefly involved in a print advertising venture.
Gibson opened a restaurant near his alma mater Creighton University in the late 1970s. The restaurant was successful, but Gibson closed the establishment after 10 years due to time conflicts with other activities that took him away from Omaha.
In 1981, Gibson was hired by friend and former teammate Joe Torre as an “attitude coach” for the New York Mets. Torre and his coaches, including Gibson, were fired after the 1981 season.
When Torre was hired to manage the Atlanta Braves in 1982, Gibson joined him as his pitching coach. He held that position until the end of the 1984 season, when both he and Torre were fired again.
Gibson stated in his 1994 autobiography “Stranger to the Game” that though he tried to get other jobs in baseball, he felt his reputation for being outspoken and difficult to get along with was held against him. He also wrote that he believed some people in the Cardinals organization were working to keep him out of the game. He felt this was due to his inadvertent omission of members of the Cardinals organization from his acceptance speech when he was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Gibson did have one final job in baseball, albeit brief, in 1995, when he was brought on as pitching coach with the Cardinals under Torre. Torre was fired as manager in June of that year, and Gibson was let go at the end of the season. The Cardinals later utilized Gibson as a special instructor for years, and he was a regular in spring training camp.
Gibson returned to Omaha to live out his life. He was named to the Board of Directors of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.), a group that provides assistance to down on their luck former players. He was named to MLB’s All Century Team and was inducted into the Creighton University Hall of Fame. The University also created a scholarship in his name in 2005. He was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. As a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, he was part of the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.
In 2019, Gibson was honored with a street in St. Louis named after him. A stretch of road in South St. Louis from the 4200 block of East Gibson Avenue to West Kingshighway was renamed “Bob Gibson Way”. Gibson was on hand for the unveiling in April 2019. The section of street is located in the Southeast Forest Park neighborhood, south of Interstate 64.
Gibson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2019 and fought the disease until his death on October 2, 2020, at the age of 84. His death came only a month after the passing of former teammate and friend Lou Brock. Gibson was survived by his wife Wendy, who he married in 1979, and son Chris from that marriage. He was also survived by daughters Annette and Renee from his first marriage.
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