ST. LOUIS — Unsure how much he’d be able to pitch next season and unable to work out a palatable deal for them, the Cardinals released former All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal on Monday and made the right-hander a free agent, though he’ll spend much of the coming year recovering from elbow surgery.
The Cardinals’ move came late Monday as part of a fine-tuning of the 40-man roster — a process that will continue in the coming weeks.
The Cardinals removed shortstop Alex Mejia and catcher Alberto Rosario from the 40-man roster as well as letting loose Rosenthal. The former closer had back-to-back seasons of 40 saves before yielding the ninth inning in 2016 to Seung Hwan Oh. Rosenthal reclaimed the closer’s role late in 2017 before the ligament in his right elbow came apart and required reconstructive surgery.
Rosenthal’s recovery from Tommy John surgery will go into next season, and when he’s able to pitch late in the year he’ll be able to sign with any team — if he doesn’t sooner.
The former closer could seek the same kind of deal that Greg Holland did coming back from Tommy John. Holland signed a one-year deal that was heavy with incentives and that shifted a team option to a player’s option when he reached an agreed-upon threshold of games finished. That meant that Holland, after one bounce-back year with Colorado, was able to elect to become a free agent this past weekend.
Rosenthal was under team control for 2018, but the Cardinals would have had to pay him a salary well beyond what he would be able to pitch.
There was not much momentum for a two-year deal.
The Cardinals put a higher value on keeping a roster spot open for the coming season and this winter. They have a handful of prospects that must be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. The deadline to do that is Nov. 20.
As expected, the Cardinals tendered a qualifying offer to Lance Lynn. The one-year, $17.4-million deal will be rejected by Lynn as he enters free agency. It does mean that the Cardinals will secure a compensatory draft pick if Lynn signs with another team. That pick will come after the second round.