MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets that the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to trade lefthanded reliever Sam Freeman to the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. This move was one that loomed on the late-spring horizon throughout camp. The reason? Freeman is out of options.
The Cardinals held onto the lefty reliever until late March as insurance against injury. If Randy Choate or Kevin Siegrist (or both) suffered a spring-training injury that would've prevented them from pitching in early April, the Cardinals might have plugged Freeman into the St. Louis bullpen. However, the port side of the relief corps maintained health. This left the Cardinals with a decision.
Because Freeman is out of options, the Cardinals couldn't just send him to Triple-A Memphis. He would first have had to make it through irrevocable waivers, which means each of the other 29 MLB clubs would've had a chance to claim him. One of them assuredly would have. In other words, to attempt to pass Freeman through waivers to Triple-A would've meant giving him away for free.
So the Cards were faced with three alternatives with spring training coming to a close: (1) put Freeman in the opening-day St. Louis bullpen, (2) place him on irrevocable waivers and give him away for free, or (3) trade him. Unsurprisingly, St. Louis opted for a trade. After all, getting something is better than nothing for moving Freeman off the team's roster.
The something the Rangers are giving the Cardinals is cash considerations or a player to be named later, which is to say not much. But St. Louis was never going to get much of anything in exchange for a relief pitcher with control issues. Freeman's career minor-league walk rate over six seasons and 288 1/3 innings is 10.01% (and 8.97% in Triple-A). In the majors, Freeman posted an 11.2% walk rate over 70 1/3 innings. As St. Louis pitching coach Derek Lilliquist told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "His stuff is as good as anybody’s. He’s just got to get it in the strike zone."
Freeman couldn't find the strike zone during his NLDS Game 1 appearance last October. The lefty faced two Dodgers, walked them both, and manager Mike Matheny pulled him. Matheny didn't call on Freeman again during the Los Angeles series. The Cardinals replaced Freeman on the NLCS roster with A.J. Pierzynski. The writing was on the wall. Today's trade fulfills the prophecy.
By trading Freeman, the Cardinals also open up a spot on the 40-man roster (one that might be filled by Carlos Villanueva?).
Freeman will get an opportunity to reboot his professional career with the Rangers. Best of luck to him.