Cards face deadline with 4 arbitration-eligibles

Ozuna, Wacha, Leone likely to be tendered; Shreve uncertain

November 28th, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- The free-agent pool is poised to deepen by the end of the week as teams reach Friday's 7 p.m. CT deadline to tender contracts to unsigned players under club control -- often arbitration-eligible. Those left without offers will be free to negotiate with other clubs as they seek a landing spot for 2019.

For the Cardinals, this deadline concerns four players. Outfielder and right-hander are arbitration-eligible for a final time. Relievers and reached this threshold for the first.

Without question, the club will tender offers to Ozuna, their starting left fielder, and Wacha, a key member in the rotation. The two will see salary increases from the $9 million (Ozuna) and $5.3 million (Wacha) they earned in 2018. Both will be free agents at the end of next season.

Neither Leone nor Shreve had the impact the Cardinals projected. Leone, acquired via trade before the season, was limited to 29 appearances because of injury. He posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.46 WHIP and was not a factor as a late-innings weapon while making $1.085 million last season.

The Cardinals acquired Shreve on July 29 hoping that he'd be the lockdown lefty they lacked. Instead, the long-ball troubles followed Shreve from Yankee Stadium. Left-handed hitters finished with a .911 OPS against him.

Confidence in Leone's health will likely push the Cardinals to retain him for another season. But the club was still evaluating Shreve's fit as recently as this week. The Cardinals remain in the market for left-handed relief help this offseason and have other lefties -- , Genesis Cabrera, and -- who could fit as a second lefty in that bullpen mix should the Cards cut ties with Shreve.

A non-tender candidate from every team

Staffing shuffle

The Cardinals announced this week that they have given scouting director Randy Flores the additional title of assistant general manager. Flores took over as the director of scouting in August 2015 and has overseen the organization's past three Drafts.

The club has also replaced retiring traveling secretary C.J. Cherre with Ernie Moore, who had most recently served as co-equipment manager. Mark Walsh will now oversee all clubhouse and equipment operations.

Cyber sales

Tickets for the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up event and the St. Louis Baseball Writers' Dinner -- both of which will be held the weekend of Jan. 19-21 -- are now on sale.

Winter Warm-Up will be held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Although autograph tickets won't be available for purchase until Dec. 10, passes for Winter Warm-Up can be reserved at Passes cost $40 for fans age 16 and older and $10 for children ages 5-15. Children under 5, as well as members of the military, police and fire departments, receive complimentary entrance.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the organization's charitable fund, Cardinals Care.

Fans can purchase discounted Winter Warm-Up tickets when bundling them with a ticket to the 61st-annual St. Louis Baseball Writers' Dinner, which will take place at the Curio Hotel at Union Station on Jan. 20. Bob Costas, Ozzie Smith, , Matt Carpenter and several other current and formal Cardinals will be feted at the event.

'Tis the season

The Cardinals will be collecting toys and gift cards at their annual holiday gift drive Dec. 5 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT outside the Busch Stadium Gate 4 entrance. Donations will be distributed to area children and children of military families at Scott Air Force Base.

Fans who make a donation will receive a gift from the Cardinals and complimentary hot chocolate. Last year, the Cardinals collected more than 1,600 toys for children in the community.

Minor matters

According to a press release sent out by the Sussex County Miners of the Can-Am League, catcher Martin Figueroa had his contract purchased by the Cardinals. Figueroa is a native of Elizabeth, N.J., also the hometown of Cardinals pitcher . Figueroa hit .328 with five homers and 50 RBIs while winning Can-Am League Rookie of the Year honors in 2018.