Goldschmidt, Arenado among Cards to miss Jays series

July 24th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- All-star cornerstones Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are two of the three Cardinals players who will be placed on MLB’s restricted list and are unable to play in the upcoming two-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays because of Canada’s federal vaccine mandate for anyone entering the country.

Veteran catcher Austin Romine will join Goldschmidt and Arenado on the MLB restricted list, making the three players unable to travel into Canada for the Cardinals' two games against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and Wednesday, team president John Mozeliak said on Sunday. Arenado will forfeit $384,615 of his $35 million annual salary for the two missed games, while Goldschmidt will lose $285,714 of a contract that pays him $26 million in 2022.

“I did talk to Nolan recently about this, and he noted [at this time] that he was hoping to begin a family with his wife, and for him, it was a personal decision, and we honor that,” Mozeliak said. “With regard to Goldy, I checked in on him, but we never had a lengthy discussion on it. I spoke with him a year and a half ago about it, and of course, I understood his thinking then. I never had any discussion with Mr. Romine.”

Relief pitcher Johan Oviedo is currently ineligible travel to Canada because of an expired Cuban passport, Mozeliak said, and he might not be able to make the trip. Oviedo’s plan is to travel to the Canadian consulate in Miami to try to get a waiver to be eligible to travel to Toronto for the two-game series, said Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol.

To be eligible to cross the Canadian border to play baseball at Rogers Centre, MLB players, coaches and staff need one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 14 days prior to traveling.

“It’s just a personal choice, and I’m not trying to do a political stand here or be a spokesperson for this or that,” said Arenado. “I’m just choosing to do what’s best for me and my family, and I mean no harm. But it’s unfortunate that I’ve got to miss two games.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that vaccines are safe, effective and have greatly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed children and adults.

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older to reduce the severity of COVID-19 cases that have led to hospitalizations and deaths over the past two years. From April 4-30 2022, the most recent data available by the CDC, unvaccinated people aged 5 years and older had 1.9 times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and six times the risk of dying from the virus compared to people vaccinated with at least a primary series of the vaccine.

At least 222.5 million people have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in the U.S., according to CDC data published by the Washington Post.

Relief pitcher James Naile, rookie catcher Iván Herrera and outfielder Conner Capel traveled from Memphis to Cincinnati on Saturday to join the squad for its Sunday night flight to Canada. They will be added to the active roster to replace the three players on the restricted list.

“It’s a very personal, private medical decision, and unfortunately, it becomes public with this,” Goldschmidt said. “I think you’ve got to put your health above everything. For me, this was the best decision for my health, and I’ll have to suffer the consequences.”

Two weeks ago, the Royals placed 10 players -- including All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi -- on the restricted list before their series in Toronto. Prior to the Cardinals making the trip, 36 players from all teams had been placed on MLB’s restricted list because of Canada's vaccine mandate. MLB rules allow teams to promote players not on the 40-man roster when replacing players on the restricted list. The Royals put the most players on the restricted list (10), followed by the Phillies (five), Twins (four) and Reds (four). The Yankees, Astros and Rangers did not have to utilize the restricted list to travel to Toronto.

“A lot of these issues can be quite polarizing, and what I’m hoping to do is avoid that with our club or inside the clubhouse,” Mozeliak said. “We all have strong opinions on what we think the right answer should be, but we also understand that it’s hard to convince people to do something that they’re not comfortable doing.”

Losing Goldschmidt and Arenado -- two players chosen this season to their seventh MLB All-Star Games -- will likely be a huge blow for a Cardinals squad that has leaned heavily on their offensive and defensive abilities this season. Arenado and Goldschmidt rank first and second, respectively, in the National League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) this season.

Following a July 14 loss to the Dodgers, Arenado made headlines when he pushed for the Cardinals to add pieces to their roster to make them a stronger championship contender. He also stressed the team needed to do everything in its power to try to overtake the rival Brewers for the NL Central title, and not merely settle for a Wild Card.

Arenado, who spent his first eight MLB seasons in Colorado, has never been a part of a division-winning team.

“We want to win the division,” Arenado said on July 14. “I don’t want to win the Wild Card anymore. Getting to the playoffs is the goal, and if we get in, great. But we want to win the division, and it’s important to win the division. I’ve never won it, so I would like to be a part of that.”