The St. Louis Cardinals have released former star prospect Alex Reyes



Ahead of Major League Baseball executives taking a short break for their holiday celebrations, the past week has seen a flurry of roster activity that serves as an important prelude to what is likely to follow in just a few weeks.

With last Friday the deadline for teams to submit contracts to players under team control for next season, Cardinals chose Failing to offer former prospect and All Star closer Alex Reyes a deal, the oft-injured 28-year-old was released.

Outfielder Ben DeLuzio, who was offered shortstop to the Cardinals at the end of last season, was also not offered a contract for 2023. The moves cut the number of players on St. Louis’ 40-man roster to 37.

For Reyes, the decision to let him pursue free agency appears to be a landmark Cardinals career that was Equally attractive and frustrating. After receiving a 50-game minor league ban for marijuana use during the Arizona Fall League in 2015—an offense that does not exist for players on a 40-man roster—Reyes debuted in 2016 at the age of 21 with 52 strikeouts and only allowed With eight earned runs in 46 innings pitched.

Arm trouble, however, would follow. He missed the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and injured his shoulder in the midst of striking out ten consecutive batters in a Triple-A rehab start in early 2018.

Injuries and lack of control of Reyes

His only major league appearance of 2018 would see him after four innings stops at a start in Milwaukee before eventually succumbing to soreness in his arm and missing the rest of the year.

After a frustrating lack of control to open 2019, Reyes broke his non-wielding hand after hitting a TV set in a minor league dugout, slowing down another year. The 2020 season saw him largely return to his previous form, and in 2021, he made his debut in the Midsummer Classic.

His speed and drive would decline at the end of that season, though he would finally pitch as a cardinal to Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who fielded it into the left field bleachers at Dodger Stadium in the bottom of the ninth inning in a season-ending wild card game for St. Louis.

Stiffness and soreness in 2022 spring training would eventually reveal a strain on his shoulder, and he spent the entirety of last season on the rehabilitation track. With his 2023 preparation in question and with Reyes on a small increase in his $2.8 million salary, the club made the decision to cut the bait, preserving both cash and a roster spot.

Stratton, Mercado and more

Another potential no-submission candidate, Chris Stratton, agreed to a one-year deal just short of the arbitration award expected, thus securing his place on the list. Stratton joins Ryan Helsley, Giovanni Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, Andre Ballant and Drew Verhagen as the Cardinals’ current right-handers in the bullpen, creating a solid lineup that nonetheless looks ready for some extinction in the trade as winter approaches.

The Cardinals announced The signing of five minor league agents, one of whom has enough acumen and familiarity with the club to cut the bait with the one-dimensional DeLuzio. Quarterback Oscar Mercado, a former second-round player who was traded to Cleveland in 2018, has agreed to a minor league deal that will provide him with ample opportunity to prove his worth as an extra player.

Mercado hit 26 home runs over the past four seasons for the Guardians and showed strong defensive skills at the position, even as he struggled in the end to maintain a high enough hitting rate for Cleveland to keep him on the roster. After a brief hiatus in Philadelphia, Mercado has hit the market as a player eager to regain his value, and will at least have the opportunity to start every day on the field with Triple-A Memphis in order to do so.

More about the Hot Stove League

None of last week’s moves foreshadowed any imminent major changes for the big-league team, but they do give shape to some resilience in the game. The Cardinals will have it this winter. With room in the 40-man roster, they could sign free agents or perhaps even make their own Rule 5 selections without counting on the cost of the corresponding transfer. And by solidifying the right side of their praise, they can build a clearer understanding of what surplus in trade might look like.

Without an imminent work deadline like there was last winter or a salary cap to drive the event, MLB’s Hot Stove will likely resume its traditional pace, reduced to a boil except for a few hot days around the Winter Meetings, which open in December. 4 in San Diego.

Before they cook, the The Cardinals had to do their prep work. Done and get the ingredients right, instead of battling the holiday crowds, expect the shopping to start in earnest once the turkey numb lasts.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Alex Reyes threw during spring training in 2020. With the deadline for teams to offer contracts to players under team control for next season last Friday, the Cardinals opted not to offer a trade to former prospect and All-Star closer Alex. Reyes, the 28-year-old was released for release from the agency. Jeff Roberson AP

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