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Transaction Analysis 4/1: Cards Fill 40-Man Roster with Lefty Reliever Waiver Claim

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Updated 40-man and ATS roster

MLB: Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We weren’t even into the first game of the year, when the Cards announced a roster transaction. But before I discuss the Cards’ new addition, there was another interesting quirk that a trained eye might have noticed.

4/1/21: Placed RHP Dakota Hudson (recovery from Tommy John surgery), LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (back stiffness), RHP Miles Mikolas (right shoulder soreness) and Harrison Bader (right forearm inflammation) on the 10-day IL, retroactive to March 29th.

What’s the big deal about this? For some reason, the people that code the transaction pages are making it more difficult for people to understand what’s going on. The Twitter pages of the clubs are almost always the quickest way that one can be notified of a transaction. The Cardinals did not officially announce these IL moves on the Twitter page, but all who followed the club knew they would happen. There are two other “official places” to look. There’s the transaction page you can get from the roster tab on the Cardinals’ home page here. That page just says that the four players were placed on the “10-day disabled list” without a reason. The “disabled list” convention hasn’t been used for a couple of years now, and unless a player has been placed on the COVID-19 Related IL, reasons are always given.

The second place to check is the transaction page on the MLB.com page itself, by hovering on the “Players” tab and clicking on “Transactions.” You can check it out here. It’s a good place to go if you want to check all the transactions in MLB for the day, although it’s almost never as timely as a club’s Twitter page. The entries usually track the transaction pages on the home pages of the respective clubs, but this time they don’t. The entries for our four players here lists the reasons, uses the proper “injured list” convention, but also mentions that the IL moves were made retroactively.

The rules permit a 10-day IL move to be made retroactive by three days, even going back three days into spring training. The only caveat is that a retroactive day may not be a day in which a player played. In other words, the move can be backdated to a day after the last date on which a player appeared in a game, up to a maximum of three days. With opening day on on April 1st, IL moves could be made retroactive to as far back as March 29th, provided of course, that a player did not play on March 29th or March 30th, which were the last two official days of spring training.

According to the MLB transaction page, the Cardinals made the IL placements of Hudson, Mikolas and Bader retroactive to March 29th. We don’t expect any of those players to be ready by April 8th, but there would be no reason not to use the maximum retroactivity. So far, so good. The thing I don’t understand, is that according to the MLB transaction page, the Cards made the IL move of Kim retroactive to March 31st. Kim last appeared in a spring training game on Saturday, March 27th, which means he was eligible for the full IL retroactivity. Out of all the players the Cards put on the IL, Kim is the one who is expected to come back the fastest. Again, he might not be ready by April 8th either, but why not take advantage of the rules? If the page is correct, Kim is not eligible for activation until April 10th.

I’m going out on a limb here and concluding that this was just a data entry mistake, and that in reality the Cards used the March 29th retroactivity date for each of the four players. I could be wrong, but I can’t think of any reason why the Cards would purposefully make Kim’s IL move retroactive to a different date. If you check the transaction page I linked, you will see that many clubs made retroactive IL moves. Other than the Kim situation, there were only two other IL moves in the game that were made retroactive to a date other than March 29th, and they both make sense. The Brewers made C Jacob Nottingham’s IL stint retroactive to March 31st because he played in a spring game on March 30th. The Athletics made Trevor Rosenthal’s IL sting retroactive to March 30th because he played in a spring game on March 29th. Until I learn a valid reason for treating Kim differently, I’m going to assume it was just a mistake.

BERNARDO FLORES, JR.

Claimed LHP Bernardo Flores, Jr. on outright assignment waivers from the Chicago White Sox and optioned him to the Alternate Training Site. 40-man roster full.

Flores, now 25, was drafted by the White Sox in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of USC. Of his 37 games pitched in college, all but 4 were out of the bullpen. The White Sox decided to use him as a starter instead, and he was in the AA rotation by late June of 2018, a season in which he would turn 23 in late August. The reports that I have looked at noted that he flashed velocity of up to 96 miles per hour on his fastball on college, but when was moved to the rotation in professional ball, his fastball velocity was inconsistent, and now topps out at a range from 89-92.

Flores’s strikeout rate in AA in 2018 poor (14.9%), but he increased it by 7% when repeating the level in 2019. Since 2018, he has had very low walk rates, has kept the ball in the yard, and has induced hitters to pound the ball into the ground, with ground ball rates ranging from 50-54%. In addition to the fastball, which the Fangraphs prospect writers rate as just a 40, he’s got a changeup that features about a 10 mph separation from his fastball a curve and a cuttery slider. With his command, secondaries and groundball profile, he could be either a back-of-the-rotation starter or multi-inning middle reliever.

The White Sox added Flores to their 40-man roster in November of 2019 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He was part of the club’s 2019 Alternate Training Site, and despite the fact that he skipped the AAA level, the White Sox added him to the active roster as the 29th man for the August 15th doubleheader against the Cardinals. After he went unused, he was returned to the ATS after the 2nd game, but recalled on September 3rd. Between September 3rd and September 15th, the club pitched him in relief twice, where he faced ten batters, gave up four hits and struck out two. The White Sox had massive large leads in both games in which he was used, and the two earned runs he allowed appeared to be on groundball outs where the club was conceding the runs.

The interesting thing is that scouts were not allowed in either major league ballparks or the various alternate training sites in 2020. MLB set up video-sharing service filled with clips from minor leaguers at the alternate training sites. The clubs were also allowed to share the ATS data. Participation in both the video and data services was voluntary, and 10 clubs opted out. I don’t know if the Cards were one of the clubs that opted out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did, since they’ve decided not to allow scouts and workouts at either the ATS or minor league spring training this year. If the Cards did opt into it, that would be the only available scouting information they could have had on Flores last year. Flores has two minor league options left, and has been optioned to the ATS, which is now at 27 out of a possible 28 players by my count.

40-MAN ROSTER

PITCHERS (23)

Genesis Cabrera (L, 2), Seth Elledge (R, 3), Junior Fernandez (R, 2), Jack Flaherty (R, 2), Bernardo Flores, Jr. (L, 2), Giovanny Gallegos (R, 1), John Gant (R), Ryan Helsley (R, 2), Jordan Hicks (R, 3), Dakota Hudson (R, 3), Kwang Hyun Kim (L, N/A), Carlos Martinez (R, N/A), Miles Mikolas (R), Andrew Miller (L), Johan Oviedo (R, 3), Daniel Ponce de Leon (R), Johan Quezada (R, 3), Alex Reyes (R, 2), Angel Rondon (R, 3), Adam Wainwright (R, N/A), Tyler Webb (L), Jake Woodford (R, 3), Kodi Whitley (R, 3)

CATCHERS (4)

Ivan Herrera (3), Andrew Knizner (1), Yadier Molina (N/A), Ali Sanchez (2)

INFIELDERS (7)

Nolan Arenado (N/A), Matt Carpenter (N/A), Paul DeJong (3), Tommy Edman (3), Paul Goldschmidt (N/A), John Nogowski (2), Edmundo Sosa

OUTFIELDERS (6)

Harrison Bader (1), Dylan Carlson (3), Austin Dean (2), Tyler O’Neill (1), Lane Thomas (2), Justin Williams (1)

*Justin Williams’s option is a fourth minor league option

ALTERNATE TRAINING SITE (27)

OPTIONED PLAYERS (9)

RHP Seth Elledge, RHP Junior Fernandez, LHP Bernardo Flores, Jr., RHP Johan Oviedo, RHP Johan Quezada, RHP Angel Rondon, RHP Kodi Whitley, C Ali Sanchez, OF Lane Thomas

NON-ROSTER PLAYERS (18)

RHP Jesus Cruz, RHP Connor Jones, LHP Evan Kruczynski, LHP Matthew Liberatore, RHP Tommy Parsons, RHP Roel Ramirez, LHP Zack Thompson, LHP Austin Warner, LHP Garrett Williams, C Tyler Heineman, C Dennis Ortega, IF Evan Mendoza, IF Max Moroff, IF Kramer Robertson, IF Jose Rondon, OF Conner Capel, OF Scott Hurst, OF Lars Nootbaar

*The final Cardinal player on option, C Ivan Herrera, has been assigned to minor league camp.