Tuesday Morning Notebook
By Jeff Jones
Twitter – @jmjones
LAS VEGAS – The first day of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings was headlined by a Hall of Fame press conference featuring Lee Smith and Harold Baines that was funny, introspective, and emotional in turn. It also featured the Cardinals making a minor roster move that may nonetheless impact the direction of their roster construction throughout the winter and was capped by a press conference with John Mozeliak where a smorgasbord of topics was broached. To that end:
- – Right hander Ryan Meisinger is the pitcher the Cardinals claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, bringing their 40-man roster to capacity. Meisinger recorded a 6.43 ERA in his first 21 major league innings last season. Mozeliak pointed to upside, youth, available options, and a high strikeout rate as reasons Meisinger made sense as a depth addition.
- – With a full 40-man roster, the Cardinals will be ineligible to participate in the major league portion of Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft. Mozeliak said the team has “nothing imminent at this time” in regard to upcoming roster moves, though that could always change quickly.
- – Mozeliak also said the team is declining to name a closer at this point in the winter but did mention Jordan Hicks by name as a potential candidate. When asked about bullpen help from outside of the organization, he said that the team could carry “an extra righty” if the right lefty isn’t found. That pitcher could, potentially, be a closer.
- – The Cardinals have said that they won’t be publicly commenting on any current free agents by name. That means explicit confirmations or denials of potential pursuits may not be forthcoming.
- – Mozeliak said the team is still in the process of deciphering whether their left-handed addition for the bench is best served as an infielder or outfielder. He conceded that a player who can play both would be valuable, though one limited to only corner outfield spots would perhaps be less so.
- – On the versatility front, Jedd Gyorko has expressed a willingness to play some outfield if necessary.
- – Mozeliak confirmed that Yadier Molina will have a “very small cleanup” on one of his knees this week. The procedure is considered minor enough that, if it occurred during the regular season, Molina would potentially be able to avoid even a stint on the 10-day disabled list.
- – The procedure also won’t affect the way in which the Cardinals conduct a search for their backup catcher, which Mozeliak said remains a challenge considering the limited opportunities for playing time behind Molina.
- – If the roster as it stands today is the roster on opening day, Dexter Fowler will be given the “opportunity to start.” Mozeliak said that the team is encouraging Fowler to approach the offseason as though he’s the certain starter in right field, in part as a motivating tool. Cardinals trainer Adam Olsen recently visited Fowler at his home in Las Vegas and Fowler was cleared for all baseball activity.
- – Both Nelly and Andy Cohen have appeared in videos shared on social media encouraging the Cardinals to pursue Bryce Harper in free agency – in Nelly’s case, the video featured Harper himself. Mozeliak said he hadn’t seen either video and didn’t have a comment about their contents.