(Baseball StL) – As the All Star break nears, clubs have begun the process of making moves to strengthen, improve, or dump salary.
On Tuesday, the Cardinals began by releasing 35-year-old Ty Wigginton from the club and purchasing AAA catcher Rob Johnson from Memphis.
The move caused little to no surprise to fans and observers, as Wigginton’s sub-.160 average and negative WAR are coupled with a $2.5 million contract. After 63 plate appearances yielded only nine hits, there was little left to say other than, “good luck elsewhere.”
Johnson, making his seventh trip to the show, is a journeyman catcher. He’s done stints with the Mariners, the Padres, the Mets and now the Cardinals.
His longest stretch in the bigs was 80 games for the Mariners in 2009. His offensive numbers have been his biggest issue, with a career average a hair over the mendoza line at .201.
Johnson’s promotion is in response to Yadier Molina’s inflamed right knee and the fact the Cardinals have only one other catcher on the roster in Tony Cruz.
Smart money is on the Cardinals continuing to rest their most essential piece in the coming days, and perhaps more regularly in the second half.
Cruz, at 26, is a capable fill-in but would benefit from an experienced hand behind him. Plus, Johnson will serve as insurance incase the young backup suffers an injury.
Beyond positional insurance, Johnson provides some familiarity to the brigade of young arms populating the pitching staff currently.
The 30-year-old signal caller was the last to work with many of the hurlers before their call up, and according to the Post-Dispatch, is seen as a shepherd moving this promising young flock forward in their careers.
Molina is still day-to-day, but with the call-up of Johnson, the Birds have bought him as much time as he needs.