While it’s not quite the same milestone as some of the other St. Louis Cardinals reached last night, new General Manager Michael Girsch has completed his first trade since taking over the position on Friday.
In exchange for international cap space, the Cardinals have acquired minor league infielders Stanley Espinal and Imeldo Diaz from the Boston Red Sox and minor league outfielder Lane Thomas from the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We have $5.75 million in our cap and we can’t spend more than $300,000 on any one individual,” explained Girsch. “So the math just makes it hard to efficiently spend 5.75–you can, you can always find someone to take your money but it doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. So we decided that we would see what the market was for that with other teams that weren’t capped out and we felt like we got better than what we could do if we just sort of through money into Latin America and spent it wildly.”
The exact amount traded away from the Cardinals was not disclosed, but Girsch did share it must be done in increments of $250,000 between teams.
“We’re trading a weird asset,” said Girsch. “We’re trading the right for someone else to spend their own money on a 16-year old. It’s a weird thing to trade. It was a little bit of a learning experience I think for everyone involved. Are we asking for too much? Are we asking for too little? Some teams think that we were nuts, other teams thought this was totally fair.”
The new year begins today in terms of international signings, which also marks the beginning of a hard cap instead of penalties teams used to pay for going over the designated amount. That could lead to more teams being open to such deals in the future.
The 20-year old Espinal has a .251 career batting mark with 8 HR’s & 82 RBI in 132 games in the minors and has spent this season with the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League (short-A). A 6-2, 190-pound right-handed hitting third baseman, Espinal led the Dominican Summer League with 59 RBIs in 2015.
Diaz is a 19-year old, right-handed hitting shortstop who was also at Lowell this season. He is a career .222 hitter in his 123 minor league games played.
A fifth-round draft pick in 2014 by the Blue Jays, Thomas was batting .252 with 4 HR’s and 38 RBIs in 73 games this season for the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League (high-A). A right-handed hitting outfielder, Thomas has 18 HR’s, 123 RBIs, and 42 stolen bases in his 264 minor league games.