Cards reach agreement with Choate

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Cardinals’ search for left-handed relief help has brought them to Randy Choate, who, as first reported by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, reached terms on an agreement with St. Louis on Wednesday. MLB.com confirmed the deal which is worth $7.5 million over three years. An official announcement will come after Choate completes a physical in St. Louis on Friday.

When it’s all in ink, it will mark the first dip for the organization into the free-agent pool this offseason.

It has been no secret that St. Louis has been looking to add a second southpaw to join Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen. The market was thin in that area, forcing the Cardinals to carefully consider how much of a financial commitment the club wanted to make to a lefty reliever. Sean Burnett, considered the top remaining free-agent lefty reliever, was going to command a strong multi-year commitment. He also wasn’t the left-on-left specialist that the Cardinals were specifically eyeing.

Choate, 37, fits that need much better. He made 80 appearances in 2012, which he split between the Marlins and Dodgers. Choate posted a 3.03 ERA in 38 2/3 innings and was used primarily as a lefty specialist. He held left-handed batters to a .158 batting average. Right-handed hitters batted .325 against him.

The Cardinals will use Choate in that same late-inning specialist role, thereby freeing up Rzepczynski to be a more flexible middle-innings option. Over his 12-year career, Choate has limited left-handed hitters to a batting average of .201.

With an opening on their 40-man roster, the Cardinals will not have to make a roster move once the signing is made. An announcement would also effectively end St. Louis’ hunt for bullpen help, which was the organization’s top offseason priority.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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