Three weeks ago the Braves re-acquired outfielder Matt Diaz from the Pirates for a player to be named later and today Pittsburgh chose minor-league reliever Eliecer Cardenas to complete the deal.
Cardenas was in the Twins’ farm system until this year, when the Braves picked him in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
He had an amazing season, throwing 57 innings with a 0.75 ERA and 75 strikeouts, but he was also a 23-year-old facing Single-A hitters and has a modest track record. And he got rocked after moving up to Double-A late in the season.
He’s certainly a fair return for Diaz, whom the Pirates were happy to remove from the payroll after signing him to a two-year, $4.25 million deal this offseason. Diaz didn’t hit in Pittsburgh and has gotten a total of just 28 plate appearances in 21 days with Atlanta.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.