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Even without Garcia’s setback, the club was bound to have made a move with the left-handed relievers in the bullpen: Sam Freeman, Kevin Siegrist, and Randy Choate. Freeman was out of options and unless he was traded, the Cardinals would have had to have either had him on the Opening Night roster or designate him for assignment–which would have meant that another team would have likely claimed on waivers. By trading the 2008 draft pick, they were able to get something in return, be it cash or a player to be named later.
“I felt at this point, with Siegrist and Choate doing what they’ve done, it was going to be really hard to go with three left-handers in the bullpen,” general manager John Mozeliak said according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch.
Here is where Garcia’s injury impacts things. Likely to join Siegrist and Choate in the bullpen are right-handed relievers Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Walden, Matt Belisle and Seth Maness. The final spot in the pen is likely to be filled by Carlos Martinez or Marco Gonzales. The other option would be that one of those two will start the season with the Memphis Redbirds and Carlos Villanueva takes the final spot.
Villanueva, according to Langosch, has an opt-out clause that he can use as early as Monday. If the veteran decides to opt-out, he becomes a free agent immediately. The pitcher has not heard from Mozeliak yet but the general manager is expected to talk about the roster with his agent.
“My preference is to stay here with this group,” Villanueva said according to Langosch. “After that first game out there, I felt that I’ve thrown the ball very well. I have no regrets about how I’ve pitched. It’s not like they haven’t seen it before. I think what they needed to see from me is what they’ve seen in previous years. It’s a decision that’s out of my hands after that.”
In February, Villanueva had been signed to a Minor League contract with the Cardinals. It is unlikely that the right-hander will be playing for the Memphis Redbirds when the Cardinals break camp later this week.
The trade of Freeman puts the Cardinals with 31 players on the 40-man roster and 37 players remaining in the Major League camp.