Cardinals release former closer Ryan Franklin

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Tony La Russa and the Cardinals did whatever they could to keep Ryan Franklin around despite the former closer’s struggles this season, using him in the lowest of low-leverage situations and often avoiding bringing him into home games so the St. Louis crowd couldn’t shower him with boos.

Last night’s ugly outing was apparently the final straw, however, as Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have released Franklin.

During his first four Cardinals seasons Franklin saved 83 games with a 3.04 ERA while allowing just 262 hits in 285 innings. This season he was 1-for-5 converting saves with an 8.46 ERA and .367 opponents’ batting average, serving up a remarkable nine home runs in just 27 innings.

Franklin allowed 11 runs in his final six appearances and at age 38 will almost surely have to settle for a minor-league deal if he wants to continue pitching.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.