Prior to tonight's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, the Cardinals had seven players to offer contracts to in order to secure the right to those players for next season: Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, Steve Cishek, Tony Cruz, and Peter Bourjos. By the time the deadline hit, the Cardinals were down to five decisions, and they chose to offer contracts to four remaining players leaving reliever Steve Cishek to make his own way on the free agent market, per Derrick Goold.
The first shoe to drop was Tony Cruz. The Cardinals backup catcher for parts of five seasons, including the 2011 World Series Champions, Cruz was headed out the moment the Cardinals signed Brayan Pena to serve as Yadier Molina's backup catcher. Instead of non-tendering Cruz at the deadline, John Mozeliak found a trading partner in the Kansas City Royals. Cruz heads to Kansas City in exchange for 19-year-old infielder Jose Martinez.
The next domino in this series was Peter Bourjos. A member of the Cardinals the last two seasons, Bourjos could never get the consistent playing time to show off his skills as a defender and hopefully hit enough to make his world-class speed an everyday presence in the lineup. It was pretty clear after the season that Bourjos would not be back with the Cardinals next season. Less clear was the trade value Bourjos had after very limited playing time in the second half last season. In a somewhat surprising move, the Cardinals were unable to find a trading partner and the Philadelphia Phillies claimed Bourjos on waivers, ending his tenure with the Cardinals.
Those two moves left the Cardinals with decisions on five players. If tendered a contract, the player and team would head to the arbitration process where they would either agree to a contract or let an arbitrator decide. As I discussed last week, MLB Trade Rumors puts arbitration estimates up on their site. Here are the estimates for the Cardinals remaining players.
|Service Time||Salary Estimate|
|Brandon Moss||5.160||$7.9 M|
|Steve Cishek||4.143||$7.1 M|
|Trevor Rosenthal||3.058||$6.5 M|
|Matt Adams||3.053||$1.5 M|
|Seth Maness||2.154||$1.2 M|
With Cishek's salary higher than the Cardinals wanted to pay, they have opted not to offer him a contract for next season, making him a free agent. The Cardinals have elected to offer contracts to Brandon Moss, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams, and Seth Maness for next year.
By trading Cruz, waiving Bourjos, and declining to offer Cishek a contract, the Cardinals have trimmed their 40-man roster to just 34 players, leaving six open spots for free agents or trades. The players below are separated by position below and colors indicate whether the players are pre-arbitration-eligible and subject to the league-minimum salary, arbitration-eligible, or signed to a multi-year contract.
The only player on the Cardinals 40-man roster that the Cardinals do not have control of contract-wise beyond the 2016 season is Jon Jay. Expect a lot of action in the next few weeks as the Cardinals make additions to their roster.