Now that Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia are both on the disabled list with shoulder injuries, the Cardinals are calling up one of their top prospects to help bolster their starting rotation.
As first reported by television announcer Dan McLaughlin, the Cardinals are promoting left-hander Marco Gonzales. He’ll make his major league debut Wednesday against the Rockies at Coors Field.
It’s been a rapid rise for Gonzales, who was selected No. 19 overall out of Gonzaga in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. The 22-year-old owns a 2.08 ERA and 101/26 K/BB ratio over his first 99 2/3 innings in pro ball. He began this season with High-A Palm Beach and has thrived since a promotion to Double-A Springfield last month.
Gonzales might not be up for long depending on how things play out in the coming weeks, including Joe Kelly’s recovery from a hamstring strain, but the Cardinals clearly aren’t afraid to be aggressive with their young arms. In case you haven’t noticed, health is an unexact science for pitchers, so a contending team might as well use the best talent available if they feel they are ready for the responsibility.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.