Cardinals trade Brendan Ryan for young righty Maikel Cleto

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The Cardinals did it.  They got rid of Brendan Ryan.

St. Louis GM John Mozeliak tried to shop the slick-fielding shortstop throughout the Winter Meetings last week and drew only minimal interest, but Mo pulled off a trade today with the Mariners.  This from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

The Cards will get young right-hander Maikel Cleto in return.  He’s a 21-year-old with a fastball that reaches into the high-90s, but he turned in an ugly 6.16 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 102.1 innings at the Single-A level in 2010.

The kid is a raw talent — not fully developed, but a fine return for Mozeliak and Co.

Ryan is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and should see ample time there for the Mariners in 2011, especially if Jack Wilson’s surgically-repaired right hand continues to be a problem.   The 28-year-old Ryan batted only .223 with a 573 OPS in St. Louis this year and was far from an everyday player by the end of his tenure.  But it was only a season ago that he registered a 740 OPS and a .292 batting average.  While that may have been his peek, who’s to say that he can’t again come close?

The Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers earlier this winter and Mozeliak almost immediately named him the club’s new starting shortstop.  Some viewed that as a conscious move to drive Brendan out of town, or at least make him expendable, but it was mostly about the Cardinals’ desire to add more offense.

Most of of Ryan’s so-called focus issues in St. Louis were overblown.  The Cards simply wanted to upgrade their run production and did exactly that with the Theriot acquisition.  Ryan is generally seen as a good clubhouse guy, he was probably just a little too playful for a club with serious-minded veterans like Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols.  Oh, and a manager like Tony La Russa.  There’s little doubt that he has played a commanding role in all of the Cardinals’ decisions this offseason.

Blue Jays acquire Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals

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The Blue Jays announced on Friday that the club acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Dominic Leone and minor league pitcher Conner Greene.

Grichuk, 26, became expendable when the Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. With veteran Dexter Fowler in right field and Tommy Pham — who finished 11th in NL MVP Award balloting last season — in center, Grichuk was effectively pushed to the bench. He will get a shot at regular playing time in an outfield corner with the Jays. Grichuk has had solid numbers since debuting in 2014, but he hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of his 2015 campaign. Last year, he hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI in 442 plate appearances.

Grichuk will earn $2.8 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration for two more years before becoming a free agent.

Leone, 26, posted an impressive 2.56 ERA with an 81/23 K/BB ratio across 70 1/3 innings last season. The right-hander will earn $1.085 million this season and then will become arbitration-eligible for the next three years. Leone certainly helps bolster the Cardinals’ bullpen and may work his way up to high-leverage innings behind closer Luke Gregerson.

Greene, 22, was selected by the Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. This past season, with Double-A New Hampshire, Greene compiled a 5.29 ERA with a 92/83 K/BB ratio in 132 2/3 innings. He throws hard, but control has been a big issue for the right-hander throughout his minor league career. The Cardinals may think they can help turn him around.