clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cardinals 40-man roster and Rule V Draft Problems

The deadline for setting the 40-man roster is upcoming. Who do the Cardinals need to protect.

Craig Edwards

In the last two seasons, the Cardinals have had a 40-man roster crunch and ended up losing a player in the Rule V draft. Two years ago, it was Luis Perdomo, who could be providing the Cardinals with solid rotation depth, a decent trade chip, or a guy out of the bullpen. Last season, it was Allen Cordoba, who didn’t do much last season with the Padres, but could still be making his way up the Cardinals ranks if given the opportunity. The Cardinals could be faced with the same problem again this season.

Generally speaking, a 40-man roster crunch is one of those good problems to have. It means that the organization has enough players close enough to the majors to fill their 40-man roster and have a few more guys close enough that other teams—generally non-contenders—might want to stash them on their rosters for a season hoping they provide some value later on. The Cardinals have lost two prospects the last two years, but they have also gained a decent bullpen piece in Matt Bowman, selected from the Mets.

The deadline for putting players on the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft is November 20 and the draft takes place the last day of Winter Meetings next month. Before we get to the players who need protecting, let’s first take a look at the Cardinals current 40-man roster.

Craig Edwards

The players above in blue can still be sent down to the minor leagues during the season (Option information from Roster Resource). If a player is in a reddish/pink box, that means the team cannot put a player in the minors without exposing the player to waivers and allowing the rest of baseball the opportunity to claim that player. This was important last season as Tyler Lyons was out of options, which meant that he was put in the bullpen instead of down in Memphis starting or relieving. This season, Sam Tuivailala seem likely to make the major league bullpen as he can no longer be sent down.

As you can see the Cardinals currently have five open 40-man roster spots. Makes it seem like the Cardinals have no problems with the 40-man. However, let’s say they trade for a player and don’t send someone on the 40-man roster in return, then they sign a couple free agents. All of a sudden, there are 38 roster spots taken, and they have guys that need protection from the Rule V Draft.

Here are the position players the Cardinals have who will be exposed to the Rule V Draft if they are not placed on the 40-man roster in the next few days. Rule V status from Roster Resource. Prospect status and statistics from FanGraphs.

Name Position Team Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG BABIP wRC+ FG Top-60
Tyler O'Neill OF AAA 22 557 9.7 % 27.1 % .246 .321 .499 0.286 107 7
Oscar Mercado OF AA 22 523 6.1 % 21.4 % .287 .341 .428 0.348 114 16
Patrick Wisdom 3B AAA 25 506 7.5 % 29.4 % .243 .310 .507 0.286 105 51
Darren Seferina 2B A+ 23 304 10.9 % 20.1 % .278 .356 .407 0.353 124 55
Joshua Lopez C A-, A 21 208 7.2 % 21.2 % .285 .348 .425 0.345 131 58
Brian O'Keefe C A, A+, AA 23 428 7.9 % 22.0 % .262 .320 .433 0.306 112 No
Bruce Caldwell 3B AA, AAA 25 403 13.4 % 29.5 % .242 .354 .410 0.327 115 No
Dennis Ortega C A-, A 20 167 10.2 % 18.0 % .234 .321 .276 0.293 85 No
Jacob Wilson 3B AA 26 503 9.9 % 19.3 % .248 .337 .417 0.276 111 No
John Nogowski 1B AA 24 238 11.3 % 10.5 % .295 .378 .382 0.324 118 No
Jose Godoy C A+ 22 265 6.0 % 13.6 % .265 .317 .374 0.295 102 No
Luis Bandes 1B R 21 208 3.8 % 15.9 % .301 .327 .520 0.314 120 No
Rayder Ascanio SS A, A+, AAA 21 463 9.7 % 19.2 % .213 .293 .347 0.249 78 No

So we have two pretty easy additions in Tyler O’Neill and Oscar Mercado. Both are top-20 prospects for the Cardinals and both are fairly close to the majors. If they aren’t protected, the Cardinals will probably lose them. There’s probably some risk in losing Patrick Wisdom given his power, but with his age and strikeout numbers, he might be a player the team risks losing as the roster comes into focus.

Here’s what the Cardinals look like on the pitching side.

Name Level Age IP K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP FG Top-60
Austin Gomber AA 23 143 23.7 % 8.6 % .263 3.34 4.1 15
Derian Gonzalez R, A+ 22 82 22.2 % 8.6 % .332 4.28 3.41 22
Daniel Poncedeleon AAA 25 29 21.0 % 10.9 % .234 2.17 4.44 25
Andrew Morales A+, AA, AAA 24 34 23.8 % 9.3 % .357 3.44 3.32 32
Yeison Medina A 24 44.1 38.5 % 10.9 % .396 2.03 2.21 52
Landon Beck A+, AA 24 55 23.2 % 8.9 % .325 3.76 3.9 54
Arturo Reyes R, A+, AAA 25 69.1 15.8 % 6.2 % .280 4.15 4.3 No
Chris Ellis AA, AAA 24 131 21.7 % 8.1 % .331 5.29 4.23 No
Corey Baker AA 27 40 19.6 % 6.8 % .328 2.48 3.34 No
Ian McKinney A+, AA 22 71.2 19.0 % 11.5 % .289 3.01 4.05 No
Kevin Herget AA, AAA 26 81.2 23.6 % 7.0 % .339 3.97 3.94 No
Matt Pearce AA, AAA 23 164 14.4 % 4.4 % .290 4.06 4.32 No
Trey Nielsen AA, AAA 25 49.1 15.7 % 6.4 % .290 3.47 4.92 No
Tyler Bray A+, AA, AAA 25 64 21.2 % 10.2 % .337 3.66 3.65 No

So here we have Austin Gomber as a likely addition. His status outside of the 40-man roster but needing protection is also what makes him a likely trade candidate should something happen on that front relatively soon. After Gomber, it is a bit dicey. Derian Gonzalez has a live arm, but he’s still a ways a way from the majors. A low-level team could potentially hide him in the bullpen for a year.

After those two, there aren’t any big prospects who could be left unprotected, but players who might fit in the bullpen like Arturo Reyes, Chris Ellis, or Andrew Morales could be taken. Last season, the Cardinals were faced with a similar situation with Ryan Sherriff. They left him unprotected, but no team took him, he stayed with the Cardinals organization and eventually made the majors.

The Cardinals have three, pretty obvious players that need protecting in O’Neill, Mercado, and Gomber. Gonzalez might need some protection as well. Put those guys on the roster, and you are up at 39 before even adding players in free agency or trade. That’s the crunch, trying to create space now so they have the room to add players later. Players like Mike Mayers and Rowan Wick could also find themselves casualties of this crunch if the team decides there are other players more deserving of a roster spot.

It still seems likely that some players currently on the 40-man or needing to be placed on the 40-man get traded soon to clear some space. The Cardinals don’t have to make a move before November 20 as they have enough space right now to protect the players who need it, but that space could become scarce fairly soon.