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TA 8/17/21: Carlson to IL, Dean Back in the Bigs

Plus correction on earlier transaction update with Quezada and Waddell

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to briefly go over the transaction updates over the last several days again because of the reporting of Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat. If you don’t know who he is, you should definitely check him out. He’s the beat reporter for that paper, but also has a Twitter page that you can check out here, where he posts incredibly timely transaction updates and other musings involving the St. Louis Cardinals.

8/11/21: Placed RHP Johan Quezada on the AAA Memphis 60-day IL with a COVID-19 Related issue. 40-man roster at 39.

8/13/21: Placed LHP Wade LeBlanc on the 10-day IL (left elbow discomfort). Activated RHP Jack Flaherty from the 60-day IL. 40-man roster full.

8/14/21: Designated OF Scott Hurst for assignment. Activated LHP Brandon Waddell from the Memphis 60-day IL with a COVID-19 Related issue, which reinstated him to the 40-man roster. 40-man roster still full.

The reason I set forth these transactions again was to correct a discrepancy between what I thought happened with Johan Quezada and Brandon Waddell. I had reported earlier that Waddell was placed on the COVID-19 Related IL after he had been optioned to the minor leagues. I then reported my belief that although Johan Quezada had been placed on the COVID-19 Related IL after being optioned, but that he was recalled and placed on the major league 60-day IL to create a 40-man roster spot.

For one thing, I treated the Quezada and Waddell situations differently, which was wrong. They both had COVID issues, and those COVID issues allowed the Cards to use those players to clear a 40-man roster spot. With Quezada already having had a COVID issue, there would have been no need to move him to the major league 60-day IL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Another part of the confusion relates to the mechanics of the COVID-19 Related IL. The 2020 MLB Operations Manual, which originally set forth the parameters of the COVID-19 Related IL, at least implicitly acknowledged the possibility that a player could be placed on the COVID-19 Related IL after he had been optioned to the minors. In addition to noting that a player placed on that list does not count against the club’s 40-man roster, the Manual specifically states that players “who are on their club’s Active List at the time they are placed on the COVID-19 Related IL will receive salary and credited Major League service to the same extent they would have if they had remained on the Active List during that period.” I don’t have the 2021 Operations Manual, but I have no reason to believe that provision is different.

The way regular injured lists work is relatively straightforward. If a player has been optioned to the minor leagues at the time of the IL placement, he is placed on the injured list of his minor league club. Minor league clubs have either 7-day or 60-day versions. Placement on a minor league IL does not affect the 40-man roster, and players placed on a minor league IL don’t get major league pay or service time credit. Jones said on his Twitter page that there is no minor league version of the COVID-19 Related IL, and that what mechanically happens when a minor league player has a COVID-19 Related issue is that he is actually placed on the 60-day IL of his minor league club until his COVID issue is cleared, but the COVID issue clears a 40-man roster spot.

I have no doubt that Jeff Jones was told this by someone, but I still have some issues with the explanation he was given. First, the manual, as I quoted, at least implicitly recognizes that the COVID-19 Related IL is a hybrid list that both major league and minor league players can be placed on. It also explicitly states that there is no minimum or maximum time a player must be placed on that list, and if the player is placed on the list when he’s an active major league player, he gets MLB pay and service time. When an active MLB player has been placed on the COVID-19 Related IL, he’s not mechanically placed on the 60-day IL or another list. He’s simply placed on the COVID-19 Related IL and that clears a 40-man roster spot. The explanation Jones was given makes it sounds like the COVID-19 Related IL is a major league only list, and that something else mechanically happens to clear a roster spot.

It doesn’t make sense to me that a minor league player would have to be placed on a minor league 60-day IL, which requires a minimum 60-day stay, but he’s given some type of COVID asterisk to not only designate that he doesn’t have to stay on that list for a minimum of 60 days, but his placement also clears a 40-man roster spot. It makes more sense to say, in accordance with the manual, that a minor league player is placed on the COVID-19 Related IL, that that clears a 40-man roster spot, but because he had been optioned to the minors at the time of the placement, he doesn’t get major league pay or service time.

Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate Jones’s reporting, and I have altered the transaction record to reflect his explanations, as they are consistent with the most recent manner in which the major league club has explained things on its Twitter page. I still point out that the player transaction pages still don’t explain this properly, and we really have to rely on people like Jones to even get an idea of what is going on. I suppose it doesn’t have to make sense. The important thing to understand is that neither Quezada nor Waddell will receive MLB pay or MLB service time for the time they spent on the IL with a COVID-Related issue.

8/16/21: Outrighted OF Scott Hurst to AAA Memphis.

8/17/21: Placed OF Dylan Carlson on the 10-day IL (right wrist sprain), retroactive to August 14th. Recalled OF Austin Dean from AAA Memphis.

Carlson hasn’t played since the August 12th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a game in which he exited after striking out in the top of the 4th inning. He felt discomfort in his right wrist after checking his swing. The IL placement is only permitted to be made retroactive by three days, and he will be eligible for reinstatement on August 24th, one week from today. The Cards went ahead with the IL move because Paul DeJong is also day-to-day with lower back tightness, and the club did not want to have to play even part of the series against the first place Brewers with a 3-man bench, which would effectively be a 3-man bench due to one of the bench members being the backup catcher.

Lars Nootbaar figures to get the most playing time in right field in Carlson’s absence, at least against right-handed pitching, and he’s in the lineup tonight. This development almost certainly means that Nootbaar will not burn an option this season. He has only spent 17 days on option so far, and an option will not be burned unless he spends at least 20 days on option. With him being on the club now and Carlson being out for another week, I can’t imagine the club would option him before rosters are required to be expanded by an additional two players on September 1st. If that ends up being the case, Nootbaar will have 3 options available for 2022, 2023 and 2024, and, barring a major injury later on, he will not get a fourth minor league option after all.

Dean (along with John Nogowski) cracked the opening day roster ahead of Lane Thomas on the strength of an impressive spring training. Despite both Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill being on the injured list during Dean’s opening stint, the Cards only let Dean start against lefties. He got four starts in the outfield, and none after April 20th. He was optioned to AAA Memphis on May 3rd when Adam Wainwright was activated from the COVID-19 Related IL so the club could have a 9-man bullpen and a 4-man bench. Dean got 34 total plate appearances, with 6 hits, including 2 doubles and a homer. He also had 5 walks and 9 strikeouts. Of his 34 trips to the plate, 12 came as a pinch-hitter, and in that role he had just 1 single, but walked 3 times against only 2 strikeouts.

Dean’s option allowed him to open the season with AAA Memphis, but he only played in 7 games before going on the AAA Memphis 7-day IL with what would be later reported by Jeff Jones to be a broken hamate bone in his wrist (which wrist I’m not sure). He didn’t go on the injured list until May 20th, and he only played in 7 out of 15 possible games that he was on the Memphis active list before the injury. On August 10th, he went on a 4-game rehab assignment to Low-A Palm Beach, and then was activated from the Memphis IL just 3 days ago. The Memphis game on April 14th game was postponed, and Dean was slotted in as the DH in both legs of a doubleheader on the 15th. Since Dean has been out for almost the entire season, it’s difficult to make anything out of his AAA Memphis line of over 38 trips to the plate, other than to note that he struck out over 30% of the time. Dean probably won’t get a start unless the Cards happen to face a left-handed starter during the upcoming series with the Pirates.

BENCH

Knizner, Carpenter, Sosa (when DeJong comes back), Rondon, Dean