Cardinals allow Alex Reyes, a soaring prospect grounded by accidents, to become a free agent

After years of hoping for lightning to strike many times from some of the electrical arms they’ve had, the Cardinals allowed Alex Reyes, longtime prospect and one-time All-Star, to become a free agent Friday night time after a season misplaced to one other harm.

Reyes and outfielder Ben DeLuzio weren’t offered contracts for the 2023 season by the Cardinals earlier than Friday night time’s deadline, eradicating them from the crew’s 40-man roster and releasing them to signal with different golf equipment.

A number of months faraway from being the Cardinals’ All-Star nearer, Reyes missed the complete 2022 season with a shoulder harm that required surgical procedure. His present throwing program targets his return to video games in May, which means since his debut in 2016 Reyes has had just one full season within the majors due to a run of accidents starting from elbow reconstruction to a damaged hand to a number of shoulder surgical procedures. That weighed closely into the Cardinals determination not to undergo the arbitration course of this winter with Reyes and as a substitute make their pitch to him as a free agent with out limitations to the kind and dimension of contract they will supply.

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“These are hardly ever simple choices, particularly when you could have a long-term relationship with a participant,” mentioned John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. “Alex confirmed indicators of excellence however he additionally handled so many alternative accidents. We all want for a completely different final result and we aren’t closing the door; it’s ajar.”

The Cardinals did current contracts — “tender” contracts in baseball’s lingo — to the entire different gamers on the roster with out offers in place for 2023. That consists of 9 gamers who’re arbitration eligible this winter: pitchers Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks and Jack Flaherty , every getting into their remaining 12 months earlier than qualifying for free company; pitchers Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera and Dakota Hudson; outfielder Tyler O’Neill; infielder Tommy Edman; and catcher Andrew Knizner.

Removing Reyes and DeLuzio from the contract leaves the Cardinals with 37 on their 40-man roster, and nonetheless an offseason purchasing listing that features a beginning catcher and an extra bat for the lineup, presumably a left-handed hitter.

The “non-tender” deadline creates one other wave of free brokers for the market, and a few become intriguing as bounce again candidates. Three years to the date after he received the 2019 National League MVP, Cody Bellinger was non-tendered by the Dodgers. Bellinger, 27, was due a increase from his $17 million wage in 2022, and LA decided that was not palatable given the erosion of Bellinger’s manufacturing. A stable middle fielder and first baseman, he hit .203 with a .648 OPS in his previous 295 video games.

Other gamers non-tendered Friday included former Cardinals Luke Voit (Nationals) and Luke Weaver (Mariners).

Reyes, 28, blitzed by the minors with excessive velocity and a biting curve, as soon as ranked as the highest pitching prospect in baseball by each Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. He had a run of a number of years because the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect, and when he debuted in 2016, he swiftly asserted his potential as a energy right-hander in no matter position was wanted. He struck out 52 in 46 innings that first season — after which a cascade of accidents restricted him to seven innings within the majors over the following three seasons.

In 2021, his solely full-length and full season within the majors, he was an All-Star with a 10-8 document, a 3.24 ERA, 29 saves and 95 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. He threw the ultimate pitch of that season when the Dodgers eradicated the Cardinals with a walk-off dwelling in opposition to Reyes within the wild-card sport.

Reyes’ flip as nearer escalated his wage to $2.85 million for 2022 and positioned him for free company after the 2023 season. Due to his harm, his wage would stay the identical, or shut to it by the arbitration course of. The Collective Bargaining Agreement limits how a lot a wage can drop from one 12 months to the following until the participant is a free agent, so the Cardinals’ wage supply earlier than Friday’s deadline was certain by these guidelines.

If they’d moved on from Reyes earlier within the offseason they may not re-sign him earlier than spring. By ready till the non-tender deadline, the Cardinals left open the opportunity of re-signing their former prized prospect — however they’re going to not be the one crew bidding.

Cards signal 5, together with Mercado

Included within the 5 minor-league gamers the Cardinals signed Friday was a extremely embellished unbiased league right-hander and a reunion.

The Cardinals introduced again former second-round choose Oscar Mercado on a minor-league deal 4 years after they traded him to Cleveland. Mercado, who will flip 28 subsequent month, was as soon as a rising shortstop after which middle fielder for the Cardinals — his rise hastened at Class AA due to his eagerness and success stealing bases. Mercado provides the Cardinals depth and velocity at middle area, contributing to DeLuzio’s determination to free a roster spot.

The Cardinals additionally signed Logan Sawyer, who spent three of the previous 4 years in unbiased leagues and Australia. He has been an All-Star and high reliever at these ranges, and this previous summer time he had 22 saves in 30 appearances with 39 strikeouts in 30 innings.

The Cardinals additionally signed infielders Taylor Motter and Juniel Querecuto, each of whom have had cameos within the majors, and 24-year-old lefty Kenny Hernandez, who has a 3.90 ERA in 122 video games for the Diamondbacks’ group.

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