The Cardinals have engaged in another flurry of roster moves:
9/6/20: After the 2nd game of the doubleheader, returned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the ATS.
9/8/20: Optioned OF Dylan Carlson to the ATS. Activated RHP Carlos Martinez from the COVID-19 Related IL. To make room for Martinez on the 40-man roster, designated RHP Ryan Meisinger for assignment. Added RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. 40-man roster still full, CPP still at 57.
Plus one minor league signing that I missed last week:
9/1/20: Signed RHP Akeek Bostick to a minor league deal, added him to the CPP and assigned him to the ATS.
With KK out of pocket for a while, Carlos Martinez is the newest addition, or should I say re-addition to the rotation. After serving mostly in a closer capacity for the past couple of years, Martinez always wanted to return to the rotation, and he got a shot at the beginning of this season. He started the club’s 4th game of the season on July 28th against the Twins, lasting 73 pitches and 3.2 IP. During that game, he allowed 7 hits, gave up 6 earned runs (with no inherited runner to score by the bullpen), walked 1, struck out 2, and allowed 2 homers. He has not pitched in a major league game since then, as he was part of a large group of Cardinal players that were diagnosed with COVID-19. He has since been described as getting stretched out to the point where he could start a game, and Mike Shildt had said that the plan was for him to start the first game of today’s doubleheader.
In an interesting move, the club has not decided to trim a pitcher off of its active roster to make room for Martinez, but instead has optioned Dylan Carlson to the minor leagues. Carlson has been a hot topic of conversation among readers. Many pined for his inclusion on the opening day 30-man roster, and thought it was a travesty that he wasn’t on it. John Mozeliak said that there wasn’t a regular place for Carlson to play, and that if he was here, he was going to play every day. After the Cards lost both Austin Dean and Lane Thomas to the COVID-19 outbreak, Carlson was added to both the 40-man and active rosters once the club returned to action on August 15th, and Mozeliak and Co. stayed true to the story. Carlson started in 9 straight games and didn’t get a rest until an August 21st game against the Reds. He then started the next 8 games before sitting again on August 29th. He then started on the 30th and 31st, but has only started in 2 of the club’s 7 games in September.
In all, the Cards have played 28 games since Carlson was added to the roster. He started 21 of those games, with 10 starts in CF, 6 starts in RF and 5 in LF. He has had 79 plate apperances and has slashed .162/.215/.243, with 8 singles, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 5 walks and 23 strikeouts. Now is not the time for a full statistical breakdown of Carlson’s season, but with the exception of Dexter Fowler, and Harrison Bader in a recent stretch, the production of the Cardinals’ entire outfield has been poor. Even if you grant that we’re operating under a small sample size and that Carlson has been a bit unlucky (.203 wOBA vs. .275 xwOBA), his 84.7 average exit velocity and .275 xwOBA are both in the bottom 5% of the league. His xBA, xSLG, K% and Whiff% are all in the bottom 16% of the league, and he’s been hopeless against offspeed pitches. The only outfielder that Carlson has outperformed is Lane Thomas, and Thomas has only received 25 plate appearances after being slowed with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The timing of the move is interesting, especially now that Dexter Fowler will be out of action due to a compromised immune system from stomach medication. This move leaves the Cardinals with only 12 position players, meaning that the Cards will be operating with a 3-man bench. This will consist of Matt Wieters, Rangel Ravelo, and a random 3rd person, whether it be Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman, or whatever random outfielder Mike Shildt decides to sit so that Edman can play the outfield, as he has done in 7 out the club’s last 9 games. It looks like all of that will depend on whether Matt Carpenter is in the lineup. If he’s not, like today’s first game, you can expect Edman to play third base and the outfield to consist of Tyler O’Neill in left, Harrison Bader in center and Lane Thomas in right. If Carpenter is in the lineup, then you can probably expect Edman to play either left or right. Unless Lane Thomas plays a lot of center field, it looks like Bader will be the biggest beneficiary of this move after being benched for 6 days in a row in one recent stretch.
The regular season is scheduled to end on September 27th. This means that if Carlson is not recalled before then, he will have spend exactly 20 days on option and one minor league option will be burned. He has spent 24 days on the active roster, which translates to 67 days of service time under the prorated formula, not even close to putting him in Super Two territory after the 2022 season, even if he should get 2 full years of service in both 2021 and 2022.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Martinez, the Cards designated Ryan Meisinger for assignment. Meisinger pitched in only 2 games for the club this year and threw 2.2 IP, allowing only 1 hit but walking 4 and hitting one guy and striking out 3. The Cards will try to pass him through waivers. The interesting thing with Meisinger is that he has been outrighted once before, by the Cards. The Cards claimed Meisinger on outright assignment waivers from the Orioles after the 2018 season, but quickly outrighted him to make room for the signing of Andrew Miller. Because he has been outrighted before, Meisinger has the opportunity to elect free agency in lieu of the outright assignment. He can either do now (actually within 2 days of being given notice of the planned outright), or defer the decision until the regular season is over. If Meisinger elects free agency now, he forfeits the rest of his 2020 salary, and he gets no termination pay. If he waits, he still continues to get paid for the rest of the year, and can then elect free agency after the season is over. If Meisinger clears waivers, that’s a pretty decent indication that at this late stage of the season, no other club is interested right now, and he’ll probably wait until after the season to make up his mind.
Ponce de Leon is being added to the roster today as the 29th man to start Game 2 of the doubleheader. He has spent exactly 10 days on option before today, so it is possible that the Cards could keep him on the roster and option another pitcher after the 2nd game to get back to 28 players. My guess is that the Cards won’t do that, because Ponce won’t be available for several days after starting today anyway.
I had missed the notification that the Cards had signed Akeem Bostick to a minor league deal. The Cardinals did not announce it on Twitter. It is listed in the MLB transaction pages, but it is listed as not happening until September 11th of this year. Assuming that no one could predict the future, I just thought it was a typographical error, but it turns out that in the coding, someone just added an extra “1”, as the transaction took place on September 1st. Bostick was actually signed to a minor league deal this past offseason, and was part of the Cardinals’ spring training 1.0. He was released by AAA Memphis on March 30th. He was originally a 2nd round pick by the Rangers in 2013, and he has spent 7 years in the minor leagues, the last 5 of which were with the Houston Astros organization. He has spent one full year in AAA, mostly in the rotation, where his walk rate and home run rate were too high.
With Bostick part of the CPP, the Cards’ CPP is at 57. There are 3 players left on the COVID-19 Related IL: Austin Dean, Kodi Whitley and Dexter Fowler. We don’t really know the timetable of these players. We hope Fowler will be back, we haven’t heard much about Dean, and Whitley has elbow inflammation and might not be back. If all three are activated, and Meisinger and all the people that are trimmed from the 40-man roster to accommodate the COVID-IL clear waivers, that would leave one player that would have to be removed from the CPP. Ultimately, due to injuries it might not matter.