(Busch Stadium) With Stephen Piscotty already announced for the starting lineup, it was clear there would be a necessary roster move to free up a spot for his return from the disabled list. But as the usual cast of characters remained in the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse, it became more unclear what that move would be.
When Mike Matheny met with media at 4:30pm, the corresponding move was still be worked through–although the manager clarified it would not be injury related. A little after 5pm, General Manager John Mozeliak arrived in the dugout with the news Matt Adams had been traded to the Atlanta Braves.
In exchange, the Cardinals receive 19-year old prospect Juan Yepez.
“Third base, first base and he’ll likely be assigned to Peoria,” said Mozeliak. “When you think about them losing Freddie Freeman, obviously they had a need. When you looked at how our roster was constructed, it was really hard for us to get him plate appearances. And so, really felt it was sort of a win-win for everybody to try and do this.”
“I think Matt was one of those guys that was always looking to grab hold of a position, at times he did and at other times he didn’t have the success that maybe he had hoped,” said Mozeliak. “Obviously, he meant a lot to this organization. He was some we drafted and developed and those types of players are always harder to move on. Definitely as I sit here now, I feel bad that these types of things had to happen but I also look at where our roster is and what we’re trying to do with this club. Trying to keep all parties happy, I think this might be the best solution.”
The Cardinals are also including cash considerations to Atlanta as part of the transaction.
“I also think it frees up some opportunities for what we might do if we give Carp a day-off,” continued Mozeliak. “Now you could think about either a Gyorko or a Peralta over there. Also what you’re seeing happen down at Memphis too, gives us some reason to have confidence in our depth.”
Memphis Redbirds first baseman Luke Voit is hitting .350 on the season with 8 home runs and 27 RBIs.
“Well with Voit for sure, but also Cunningham, and Bader, and DeJong–they’re all playing at a very high level, so if we needed to bring somebody up, I think we’re covered.”
“We talked about it in the off-season, I’m not going to hide behind that but clearly, when you think of moving Carp to first the dynamics of plate appearances changed quickly. So ultimately, as Spring Training came and went, we just felt comfortable with what we had and it made sense to try and do something.”
In his career, Adams is a .328 (39-119) as a pinch-hitter, which ranks 2nd amongst active players and 4th best since 1974 (min. 110 ABs).
“That’s one of the trade offs of this, but we were just a little bit hamstrung on flexibility,” acknowledged Mozeliak. “I don’t think Matt wanted to already be pigeon-holed into a pinch-hitting role. Yes, we had some early successes, but how sustainable is that?”
As for the 6’1, 200lb Juan Yepez, he will report to Peoria (A).
“More offensive in the sense of he’s a young player…already playing at a low A level and holding his own,” said Mozeliak. “It’s a little bit of a lottery ticket in the sense we’ll see how well it pays off.”
A non-drafted free agent, he signed with the Braves organization in July 2014, out of Caracas, Venezuela. The right-handed hitting infielder has hit .281 (125-for-445) with 34 doubles, six home runs and 54 RBI in 120 games with three minor league affiliates since the start of the 2015 season. This year, Yepez has played at Rome (A), where he was batting .275 (39-for-142) with 13 doubles, one home run and 15 RBI in 35 games.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull-STLBaseballWeekly.com