John Smoltz is set to clear waivers today at noon. When he does, the Cardinals are going to sign him. They’re going to use him as a fifth starter initially, with thoughts of moving him to the bullpen late in the year or for the playoffs.
The Cardinals are one of the few contenders who really have nothing to lose by giving Smoltz a shot in the rotation. Between Todd Wellemeyer, Mitchell Boggs, Brad Thompson, and P.J. Walters, their fifth starters have been utter abominations. Those guys are a combined 10-15 with a 5.45 ERA, and given that they’ve allowed 320 baserunners in 188 1/3 innings, that ERA probably represents good luck.
Only downside: NL guys like me will bang our heads against a wall if Smoltz waltzes in to St. Louis and starts to pitch effectively, because it will just be the latest painful data point reminding us of the disparity between the leagues.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.