The Cardinals announced Friday the team has non-tendered right-handed reliever Seth Maness, making him a free agent. Considering Maness’ uneven summer – with both health and performance – and the emergence of Rule-5 selection Matt Bowman in a similar role, the Cardinals likely viewed Maness as redundant to the 2017 bullpen.
St. Louis drafted Maness in the 11th round of the 2011 draft. He broke in with the Cardinals in 2013, and in four years with St. Louis, registered in 3.19 ERA in 244 career games. Arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, Maness was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a salary in the neighborhood of $1.6 million for 2017. Instead, the Cardinals declined to offer him a contract prior to Friday's deadline, allowing Maness to enter the market and sign with any club.
Known for his ability to induce double plays as an effective fireman reliever for the Cardinals, Maness struggled tremendously to begin this past season. After his ERA ballooned to 6.39 in mid-May, St. Louis placed Maness on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Upon his return in late-June, Maness seemed to regain his effectiveness, posting a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings until mid-August
That’s when his season was derailed again due to more elbow issues. Initially, Maness was scheduled for Tommy John surgery, but ultimately underwent a repair to a torn ligament in his elbow instead, shortening the recovery time and making him available for the 2017 season.
With Bowman in the fold, however, the Cardinals decided to part ways with Maness despite his mid-season resurgence and perceived health heading into next year. Bowman appeared in 59 games as a rookie for the Cardinals in 2016, pitching 67 innings with a 3.46 ERA. A cheaper option with more years of control, St. Louis hopes to groom Bowman’s skill set to replicate what Maness provided in his time with the team.
After signing lefty reliever Brett Cecil to a multi-year deal a few weeks ago, the Cardinals are unlikely to make any more additions to the bullpen the rest of the winter, though exact bullpen roles remain fluid. With Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha reportedly preparing for the season as starters, but the rotation seemingly full without them, Mike Matheny could elect to deploy his relievers in a capacity yet to be defined.
The Cardinals other arbitration eligible players – which include Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams, Kevin Siegrist and Michael Wacha – are all expected to be tendered contracts. The Cardinals 40-man roster stands at 39 heading into the Winter Meetings in Washington D.C. next week.
Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.