18051709449289 Cardinals Spring Baseball St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader catches a ball with his bare hand during spring training baseball practice Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Cardinal camp continues to shrink as spring training enters its final week. Friday the team trimmed three more players, optioning pitcher Josh Lucas, first baseman Luke Voit and outfielder Harrison Bader to Memphis.
The moves come after Jason Motte was granted an unconditional release Thursday.
Bader had a tremendous spring as he competed for a fourth outfielder spot, hitting .313 with a .846 OPS in 48 at bats and flashing impressive defensive skills.
However with Jose Martinez hitting well and spring breakout star Yairo Munoz both demonstrating outfield capability, Bader was sent down to get every day reps rather that limited work as a sub.
The Cardinals are clearly comfortable with Martinez or Munoz as occasional fill-ins when their starting outfielders need rest, but would likely choose to deploy Bader if an injury meant a starter would miss significant time. Keeping him in rhythm at Triple-A makes that possibility more feasible, since he will be playing every day.
Motte was always an outside shot to break camp with the team, and will now be free to sign with an organization who needs more bullpen help than the Cardinals do, though he will likely return to the team on a minor league deal.
Barring a major-league contract from another team, Motte can return to the Cardinals and be assigned to Triple-A Memphis. Motte lives in Memphis, so the move seems like a no-brainer, though another team could snatch him up before that happens.
With the moves, the Cardinals now have 36 players in camp, 10 of which are non-roster invitees.