The Cardinals just announced a flurry of roster moves:
9/14/20: Returned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the ATS after the 2nd game of the doubleheader.
9/16/20: Optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt and OF Lane Thomas to the ATS. Recalled RHP Junior Fernandez and IF Max Schrock from the ATS. Activated RHP Johan Oviedo from the COVID-19 Related IL. To make room on both the 28-man and 40-man rosters for Oviedo, designated LHP Rob Kaminsky for assignment. Added OF Justin Williams as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. 40-man roster still full. CPP still at a full 60 (assuming that Parsons and Warner were actually added to it).
The big news is that Oviedo has been cleared to play. He was placed on the COVID-19 Related IL on September 10th because after the doubleheader on August 8th, he came into contact with someone who ended up testing positive for COVID-19. He had always tested negative, but the Cards quarantined him and subjected him to daily testing. He drove to Milwaukee yesterday, and he was scheduled to get rapid tested today before the games. If that came back negative, that would mark 7 straight days of consecutive negative testing, and he would be cleared to play. He has now been activated and he will start Game 2 of today’s doubleheader. With the glut of games coming up, the Cards need as many innings and as many starters as they can possibly get to save our bullpen arms.
To make room for Oviedo, the club had to make both an active roster move and a 40-man roster trim. The club killed two birds with one stone by designating Kaminsky for assignment. Kaminsky is well know as the club’s 1st round draft choice in 2013, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Brandon Moss at the 2015 trade deadline, and never lived up to the 1st round billing, due in part to injuries. The Cards signed him to a minor league deal this offseason as a Rule 55 minor league free agent. Kaminsky hadn’t allowed a walk or a run in 4 prior appearances until last night’s debacle of a game. He closes out the 2020 season with 5 games pitched, 4.2 innings pitches, 2 walks, 3 hits, 3 strikeouts, and 3 runs allowed, 2 of which were earned. It’s likely that the Cards will try to place Kaminsky on outright assignment waivers. It’s unlikely that Kaminsky will be claimed because the deadline for clubs to add players to the organization for postseason eligibility was yesterday. This, therefore, means that that’s not necessarily the end of Kaminsky in a Cardinal uniform. But it could be. Kaminsky does not have the service time to reject the outright assignment, but now that’s he’s off the 40-man roster, he will become an automatic Rule 55 minor league free agent again if he’s not either added back to the 40-man roster or re-signed to a minor league deal by 5 p.m. EST on the 5th day after the World Series is over.
Crismatt was optioned not because he did anything wrong, but because he just pitched 3 innings last night and probably wouldn’t be available for a few days as a result. His yeoman’s work in saving the rest of the bullpen was the very thing that got him optioned, and that’s just a cruel part of the business. With Gallegos out and Gant possibly out and at least two other relievers likely unavailable unless it was an emergency, the club just couldn’t afford to keep another unavailable reliever on the roster. He can be added back to the active roster for another doubleheader on Friday, but if not, and if the Cards don’t make any more IL moves, Crismatt must stay on option until September 26th, which is the day before the regular season ends. The only other available 40-man roster reliever to recall aside from Fernandez was Roel Ramirez, who is probably not as bad as his game in which he allowed four consecutive homers indicates.
The other exchange was Thomas for Schrock. Thomas has looked off all year, and there’s no sugarcoating it. He’s been out to lunch on defense at least twice. On one occasion, he nonchalantly threw the ball in to 2nd base, instead of coming up firing, a circumstance which allowed a slow-footed catcher to score. Last night he dropped a ball at the track because he turned the wrong way and had to spin around at the last second. He did make a nice running play in the gap a little later in the game. If we’re going to play small sample size theater, in 40 trips to the plate, Thomas has not been good, slashing .111/.200/.250 with a 32.5% K rate and 10% BB rate. Three of his 4 hits have gone for extra bases, with 2 doubles and 1 homer. Although Thomas is being optioned now, he will not burn a minor league option, because it is less than 20 days until the end of the regular season. Thus, he will still have 2 options left.
Schrock represents a potential left-handed bat on the bench and Kolten Wong insurance. Wong was scratched from last night’s start because he has discomfort with his oblique area. He’s day-to-day right now, and the Cards must have figured that they don’t always want Edman to play 2nd base if Wong can’t go. That would prevent him from playing right field, which obviously wouldn’t do.
Justin Williams was also added as the 29th man, and he will be making his Cardinal debut tonight in right field. Williams was part of the return in the 2018 deadline Tommy Pham deal, along with Roel Ramirez and Genesis Cabrera. He has clearly been last on the pecking order in terms of 40-man roster outfielders. He got 1 day of MLB service time with the Rays in 2018. Because of that 1 day of service, the Cards were prevented from optioning Williams to the minor leagues in spring training of 2018 when he punched a television set the previous winter. Yes there is a narrow set of circumstances where an injured player can actually be optioned, and that one day of service stopped it. Because of that, he got 40 days of service last year. Although Williams hit well in a very short stint with AAA last season, he was not recalled last September when rosters expanded, and was basically the only healthy position player not seen fit for a September cup of coffee. Williams has already burned his final minor league option this season. He’s been on option long enough that the Cards could keep him and option someone else after Game 2, but that remains to be seen. The club’s designation of Williams and not Schrock as the 29th man would indicate that they feel the need to keep Schrock around longer, and you could see much more of Edman and Ravelo in the outfield.