Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cardinals step up their search for right handed infielder and Rule 5 wrap

As I noted a couple days ago, it appears that the main piece the Cardinals need to complete their team is a right handed infielder, one who can back up Kolten Wong at second or perhaps even platoon with him.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, obviously aware of this need, has been poking around the free agent market to find such a player.

On Tuesday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, reported that the Cardinals met with Mark Ellis' agent, Jamie Murphy of TWC. 

Derrick Goold confirmed Slusser's report on Wednesday and also indicated that the Cards met with the agent for Ryan Roberts, stating that the team is looking for a backup or compliment for Wong, but not necessarily competition.

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, my personal favorite, Jeff Baker, is being pursued by 6-7 teams, which will likely drive his asking price up (and may also explain the Cardinals interest in the other players). 

Finally, Derrick Goold reports that the Cardinals have discussed Brian Roberts as a potential target, but his injury history makes the team a bit wary.

Overall, although I would prefer Baker, he may soon be priced out of the Cards range.  Short of him, the pickings are pretty slim. 

Ellis is a decent plan "B" and has a career .777 OPS against lefties, but has played primarily second in his career.

Ryan Roberts, despite years of inconsistency, has a career .785 OPS against lefties and has more versatility than Ellis, having played second, third and left field extensively in his career.  

Brian Roberts is probably more of a last resort type, as he has fared better against righties (.782 OPS) in his career than lefties (.716 OPS).  Plus, he's played most of his games at second in his career (1213 games) with 53 games at short and his days as a shortstop are likely over.

If I had to rank them, I would go Baker, Ryan Roberts, Ellis and then Brian Roberts.

In other Winter Meetings news, the Rule 5 draft was conducted today and the Cardinals did not select any players in the major league portion nor did they lose any.

However, in the minor league portion, the Cardinals lost RHP Kevin Thomas to the Twins, shortstop Jake Lemmerman to the Padres and LHP Hector Hernandez to the Diamondbacks, while claiming shortstop Greg Miclat from the Rangers and first baseman Jesus Ustariz from the Tigers.

Of the players the Cards lost, Lemmerman was probably the most well known, having been acquired by the Cardinals for Skip Schumaker back in December 2012.  However, he has only hit .232 above class A ball.  Thomas was a 33rd round pick of the Cards in 2008 and has a career 3.93 ERA in the minors.  Hernandez also has a career 3.93 ERA and was a 10th round pick in 2009.

Of the additions, Miclat was a 5th round selection in 2008.  He is a career .259 hitter in the minors and at age 25 is unlikely to be more than just organizational depth.

Ustariz may have a little more upside.  He is just 21, but has not played above short season ball.  However, he has a career slash line of .292/.382/.420 in 678 at bats.

Overall, not much to get too thrilled or despondent about as the Winter Meetings wrap up.

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