UPDATE: Done deal. Laird gets $1 million guaranteed, plus $300,000 in incentives.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com hasn’t been able to confirm the news yet, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are close to signing veteran catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird is coming off a career-worst season in Detroit, hitting just .207 with a .567 OPS, but it’s still surprising that he wasn’t able to land somewhere that could offer more playing time.
With the Cardinals he’ll serve as Yadier Molina’s backup, which tends to be a pretty easy gig. Molina has started 136 and 130 games behind the plate in the past two seasons and has averaged 118 starts in six full seasons in St. Louis. That leaves Laird playing once or maybe twice per week, which will be a big change for a 31-year-old who’s averaged 100 starts in the past four seasons.
Laird would be replacing Jason LaRue, whose career was ended by a concussion suffered from a Johnny Cueto kick to the head.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.