Cards release McClellan; sign Johnson to Minors deal
The Cardinals parted ways with reliever Kyle McClellan on Tuesday, granting the right-hander his unconditional release one week before the organization must set its 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft.
With McClellan again eligible for arbitration and the Cardinals unsure about the status of his arm, the organization opted to cut ties now. It ends a relationship that began in 2002, when the Cards selected McClellan, a St. Louis-area native, in the 25th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
“Any time you come off an injury, you know it’s never a good situation and especially when you’re at the point where I am with being arbitration eligible,” said McClellan, who had long-ago braced for this possibility. “You understand that. And then you also look at the young arms they have coming up and the exciting potential they have and you see there might not be a place for you.”
With McClellan gone, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster has 36 players on it. That gives the organization several open spot which can be used to protect eligible players from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Those Minor League players must be added by next Tuesday.
The Cardinals also now have five remaining arbitration-eligible players to settle contracts with this winter. That list includes right-hander Jason Motte, right-hander Edward Mujica, third baseman David Freese, right-hander Mitchell Boggs and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski.
The club has until Nov. 30 to tender a contract to these players. If any are not offered a contract, they, too, enter the pool of free agents.
(To read much more from McClellan and about the Cardinals’ decision, look for a full story on MLB.com shortly.)
The Cardinals also announced on Tuesday that they have come to terms on a Minor League deal with catcher Rob Johnson. The agreement includes an invitation for Johnson to participate in big-league Spring Training as a non-roster player.
The Cardinals’ two primary catchers from 2012 – Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz – will be returning, but the addition of Johnson will provide Cruz with some competition as he tries to again earn the job as Molina’s backup.
Johnson, 30, spent the 2012 season with the Mets organization, though he only appeared in 17 Major League games. He played in another 45 Triple-A games before his season ended in August due to a torn left thumb ligament. The Mets removed Johnson from their 40-man roster in October and he elected to become a free agent.
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