The St. Louis Cardinals signed their recent relief pitcher-acting-as-closer after the September 1 deadline to be on a postseason roster. There might be a way yet for him to be on a postseason roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Juan Nicasio in an effort to bolster the bullpen. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Nicasio started seeing action as the closer. He is now helping the Cardinals approach the postseason in great, albeit surprising fashion.
The question remains though: why sign Nicasio at such a late date when this prohibits him from being listed on the postseason roster should the St. Louis Cardinals make it to that point?
At current, if the season ended today (apologies to those who dislike this statement), the St. Louis Cardinals would NOT see baseball action in October. But the season does not end today. Instead, the St. Louis Cardinals are tied with the Brewers in the second spot of the NL-Central only two games behind the Cubs and are surging up the Wild Card standings.
Let’s assume then that the St. Louis Cardinals make the postseason, can Nicasio play on the roster? According to my first-pass review of the current CBA, it appears that Nicasio cannot play in the postseason as he was added to the roster after September 1.
But this just didn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense for the St. Louis Cardinals to add this arm only to pitch for them for in the single month of September.
Let me admit here that perhaps the Cardinals were willing to sign Nicasio as an audition for a contract offer at the conclusion of the 2017 season to enter as the Cards’ closer once Seung-hwan Oh walks and as protection for Trevor Rosenthal‘s Tommy John recovery.
Back to this season though. I dug a little more into the CBA and discussed this head-scratcher with my fellow editor, Tito. We both locked into a piece of the CBA that presents a loophole for the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is that loophole thanks to MLB.com.
"As mentioned, players acquired via trade in September are not eligible for their new team, and the same goes for those signed as free agents during that time. However, if a club wants to add a player who was not on the 40-man roster but was in the organization, it can petition the Commissioner’s Office if that player is replacing someone who has been on the 60-day DL for at least 60 days."
Here’s the bottom line: Nicasio was NOT in the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to September 1. This could be problematic as the CBA clause above requires the loophole to apply to those names already in the organization which Nicasio was not.
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Another potential sticking point is the fact that Nicasio would need to “replace” a name on the 60-day DL who had been listed there for at least 60 days. Alex Reyes comes to mind but I’m having trouble thinking of another and I’m having trouble thinking that the Commissioner would allow this suggested substitution.
But all is not lost as the Commissioner can approve of anything he wishes. In other words, should the Cardinals make the postseason, it would make plenty of sense to have them requisition the Commissioner’s permission to supplant Reyes with Nicasio.
While I doubt it would be approved- as this would create a precedent that I doubt the Commissioner is willing to make- I think it would be wise to ask anyway.
Whether the St. Louis Cardinals make it to the postseason or not, time will tell. Whether Nicasio appears on the Cardinals’ postseason roster will be in the hands of the Commissioner.