Shortstop now the priority for St. Louis

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After addressing their rotation and the bullpen with Wednesday’s Colby Rasmus swap, the Cardinals are looking for shortstop help, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He hears that a move is likely and that it could be a “difference-maker.”

Of course, there isn’t really much for difference makers on the shortstop market.  Jose Reyes is unavailable.  Rafael Furcal is the big name, but he’s hitting .195 in 133 at-bats this season.

Shortstops thought to be available at the right price include Washington’s Ian Desmond, Houston’s Clint Barmes and Seattle’s Jack Wilson.  San Diego’s Jason Bartlett is better than that bunch, but it doesn’t appear that the Padres are at all eager to move him.

The Cardinals, though, could stand to do something.  They knew they were taking a hit defensively when they acquired Ryan Theriot to replace Brendan Ryan over the winter, but Theriot hasn’t made up for it with his bat, having hit just .263/.311/.320 in 353 at-bats.  Plus, the Cards are also struggling at second base and Theriot might be more useful there if a full-time shortstop is acquired.

So, let’s see what John Mozeliak can come up with.

Update: For what it’s worth, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggert is reporting that the Astros have told teams Barmes isn’t available.  Because when you’re cruising toward the worst record in the major leagues and you have a chance to keep a mediocre shortstop that’s going to a free agent at season’s end, you just have to do it.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.