The Cardinals have not gotten good results of late, and when that happens sometimes teams shake things up. Randal Grichuk getting sent down to High-A Palm Beach certainly serves a shake up. Releasing a veteran player with a guaranteed contract is another such move. Today, the Cardinals have chosen that route as Jonathan Broxton has been given his unconditional release.
As the team always does, they announced the move on a somewhat difficult to read press release where they also announced who Broxton was going to make room for: right John Gant.
Not much needs to be said about the departing Broxton. He was decent but walked a lot of guys back in 2015 when the Cardinals traded Malik Collymore to the Brewers to gain his services. Despite not being great, the Cardinals gave him a two-year guaranteed contract for $7.5 million along with a no-trade clause. He wasn’t very good last year with a 4+ ERA and FIP, making him replacement-level for a reliever. He was even worse this year.
With the release of both Miguel Socolovich and Broxton, the team is still electing to carry 13 relievers to appease Mike Matheny’s fear of extra innings, but by removing two players who couldn’t be sent down to the minors, the Cardinals have increased their flexibility in sending players up and down as needed so hopefully 13 relievers aren’t required in the very near future.
As for Gant, this is what Red Baron had to say about him before the season:
[H]e has a fastball with slightly above-average velocity that nonetheless gets swings and misses, as well as popups, at the top of the zone. I love the changeup, would rather just be friends with the curve. As he is now, Gant could probably fill a spot at the back of a rotation just fine, but I’m intrigued by how his four seam/changeup combo could play up in the bullpen. He’s one of those pitchers I think would actually be better pitching from the navel to the letters with the fastball, rather than trying to work down in the zone as is usually the plan, and leaning on the changeup, say, 30% of the time. At least, that would be my plan, just to see how it would work. (A quick note on the change: it’s almost a forkball, in terms of the way Gant throws it and the action on the pitch. I like it a lot.)
Gant has a very unusual delivery, but was injured to start the season and has only appeared in three minor league games. In 12.1 innings, he has struck out 11, walked five and has yet to give up a homer. He started seven games and relieved in 13 last year for the Braves before coming over in the Jaime Garcia trade, and his numbers in both were a bit below average.
Gant could be a solid bullpen piece this season, but the bigger news is that the team has decided to move on from Broxton. Another move among a series of low-cost veterans who have been released before their time is up, dating back to Ty Wigginton.