The free agent signings of relievers Brett Cecil, Luke Gregerson, and Greg Holland have not gone according to plan, but that will not deter the St. Louis Cardinals from exploring the market again this off-season.
“I think we understand the volatility of the relief market probably as well as anybody,” President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said. “Sometimes you have to take chances. Do you want to be aggressive or not in some of these markets? We did choose to do that a few years back and it has not been a home run. We get it. But that’s not going to create some paralysis for us now. We understand the volatility of it and trying to get it right is what we’ll continue to do.”
Holland was designated for assignment in July. Cecil has two years left on his deal, but physically can still pitch. The same may not be true for Gregerson, who has one year left on his contract, but appeared in only 17 games and was moved to the 60-day disabled list in August.
“I think that’s a question mark and very fair question,” Mozeliak admitted. “In terms of how the season ended for him, there’s certainly some work to do. When you talk about the volatility of bullpen, here’s a classic example of someone that–there’s a lot of wear and tear on that tire. He threw a lot. You’re sort of questioning how much is left. I think we have to look at this as we don’t know, but it would be certainly hard for us to just write him in and say we’re going to get the reliever we thought we were getting a year ago. I do think having a year off probably helped, but it’s a little bit of an unknown to see how well it will.”
The Cardinals will have a number of internal options as well. Even though the majority of their young pitchers will report to Spring Training as starters, not all of them will crack the starting rotation. And Jordan Hicks is a candidate to step into a larger role at the back end of the bullpen.
“I do feel like when you look at somebody like Hicks, I do feel like he could close games,” said Mozeliak, making it clear that it was too early to name a closer. “There’s a lot of time between now and February, things can happen. But when you’re looking at last year versus this year, I do feel like we’re looking at more depth than we had a year ago at this time. I also recognize the biggest Achilles in our bullpen right now is the left side.”
ANKIEL ON THE RADAR
–Former St. Louis pitcher/outfielder and current FSN broadcaster Rick Ankiel announced a few weeks ago he was ready to make a comeback to the mound and the Cardinals have some interest.
“At some point, he and I will touch base,” Mozeliak said. “I will say that he and I had a nice discussion a few weeks back. I certainly understand his sincerity and seriousness of this. It’s something that he’s going to put 100% effort in and I think he’s very much committed to trying.”
After making his MLB debut with the Cardinals as a 20-year old in 1999, the yips and other pressures ended Ankiel’s time on the mound in 2004. He returned to the big leagues in 2007 as an outfielder.
Another former Cardinal pitcher, Trevor Rosenthal has been dialing up his velocity after spending this past season recovering from Tommy John surgery. His name was brought up to Mozeliak, who refrained from comment. The allowance of commenting on Ankiel was due to the fact the left-hander is partially a team employee.
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