ST. LOUIS -- A search to better balance their roster for the stretch run led the Cardinals to a familiar face. Matt Adams, who spent parts of nine years in the organization, is bringing his left-handed power bat back to St. Louis after a 15-month tour through the National League
ST. LOUIS -- A search to better balance their roster for the stretch run led the Cardinals to a familiar face. Matt Adams, who spent parts of nine years in the organization, is bringing his left-handed power bat back to St. Louis after a 15-month tour through the National League East.
Adams will join the Cardinals in Los Angeles on Wednesday after being claimed off waivers from the Nationals, who, following a 3-7 road trip in which they lost three of four to the Cards, conceded that it was time to begin shedding pending free agents from their big league roster. The Cardinals were beneficiaries.
"We're taking about a guy who is a proven big league accomplished hitter," interim manager Mike Shildt said. "He did it for us for years, and he's done it since he left us. He's a guy who can do damage from the left side, and it's definitely a perfect fit for what we're trying to do here."
Like their acquisition of right-hander Tyson Ross earlier this month, the Cardinals did not have to part with any players to add Adams. The Cardinals will simply be on the hook for the remainder of his $4 million salary. Adams will be a free agent at season's end.
"I wouldn't say we were overly aggressive in that market [for a left-handed bat], but as things started to move in a positive direction over the last few weeks and now where we are in the standings, it made sense for us to look to add to our club," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "This is just a nice fit.
"Obviously, we have some familiarity with Matt. We certainly appreciate his time here before. I think from a clubhouse perspective, we know he'll fit right in, and it just gives us some flexibility moving forward."
The move was one of several the Cardinals are making this week to fortify a club that entered play Tuesday tied for the NL's second Wild Card spot and 3 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the NL Central.
Also on Tuesday, the Cardinals activated right-hander Carlos Martinez from the disabled list. He'll offer Shildt immediate help in a bullpen that was taxed in Monday's 5-3 victory over the Dodgers. Infielder Patrick Wisdom was optioned to Triple-A Memphis, though he's expected back when rosters expand in September.
The Cardinals shifted outfielder William Fowler to the 60-day disabled list, which ends any chance he'll return before the end of the regular season. The club is still expected to activate utility man Yairo Munoz from the DL this week, though he could be earmarked for the Minors -- albeit, temporarily -- since Adams will claim one of the four bench spots.
Adams will give a right-handed-heavy roster a fourth left-handed-hitting position player -- and one with pop. Adams' 18 home runs would rank second on the Cardinals, as would his .882 OPS against right-handed pitching.
Only Matt Carpenter has fared better in both statistical categories.
Though Adams won't arrive with an everyday job waiting, the Cardinals can play to certain right-handed matchups by starting Adams at first base and shifting Carpenter to third. If there's a concern, it's that Adams isn't trending in a positive direction offensively. He's 2-for-33 with eight strikeouts in August.
"He hasn't had a lot of playing time, and that's why I think trying to get him some at-bats is going to be important," Mozeliak said. "I think [making periodic starts] just enhances your ability to come off the bench. I also think just getting him into this environment might be a pleasant bounce as well."
In speaking with Mozeliak on Tuesday, Adams expressed excitement at the opportunity to return to the organization that drafted him out of Slippery Rock (Pa.) University in the 23rd round of the 2009 Draft. Adams still makes St. Louis his offseason home, and remained close with several of his former (now present) teammates.
"When you have something special going on right now like we do where the clubhouse is really feeling great and confident and we're playing well, if you bring in another piece and you don't know that person, you would hate for it to be something that could be a negative thing," Carpenter said. "But it's great to know that we're getting a good person, a good teammate, a good guy. I couldn't be more thrilled to have him back."
Adams played under Shildt in the Minors and was teammates with a number of players still on the Cardinals' roster. His postseason home run off Clayton Kershaw in 2014 remains a fixture on team highlight reels.
Adams was in the organization until the Cardinals traded him to the Braves for Minor Leaguer Juan Yepez last May. Adams finished out the 2017 season in Atlanta before signing a one-year contract with Washington in December.
The Cardinals weren't the only team to benefit from Washington's selloff. Also on Tuesday, the Nationals dealt Daniel Murphy to the Cubs.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.