Cardinals Designate Pete Kozma for Assignment


The St. Louis Cardinals had to take someone off their 40-man roster in order to accommodate starting pitcher Marco Gonzales’s arrival on Wednesday, and they chose to designate infielder Pete Kozma for assignment. They also placed starting pitcher Joe Kelly on the 60-day disabled list, though that move won’t be effective for long, as Kelly is making a rehab start at Triple-A Memphis on Friday and will likely be activated in the next few weeks. Kozma cleared waivers later Wednesday and was optioned to Triple-A.

UPDATE, 3:17 PM: Due to Kozma being optioned–not outrighted–he is still on the Cards’ 40-man roster. Kelly’s transfer opened up the space for Gonzales to be added.

If this is the last action Kozma sees with the Cardinals’ major-league team, it’s a rather unceremonious end to Kozma’s career with the team. He was the Cards’ first-round pick in 2007, but he never really lived up to potential. He played quality defense at short, but he only had a .236/.310/.346 career slash line in the minor leagues. Beginning in 2011, he began to get sporadic action with the big-league club as a backup infielder.

The definite highlight of his Cardinals career was in the 2012 season. After being called up to replace the injured Rafael Furcal, Kozma finished out the regular season in spectacular fashion, hitting two homers and driving in 14 runs while posting a .333/.383/.569 slash line in 72 at-bats. He drove in the deciding runs in Game 5 of the NLDS to finish off a spectacular comeback.

Unfortunately, that performance gave the Cardinals confidence that Kozma could be an everyday player, and he ended up performing rather poorly as the Cards’ primary shortstop in 2013, hitting .217/.275/.273 with one homer and 35 RBI while playing spotty defense in the playoffs.

This year, he was pushed down the depth chart after the Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta, and he’s spent most of the year at Triple-A Memphis. He was called up for a brief stint on Monday but never ended up playing in his two days with the team. It was thought possible that Kozma could be picked up by another team, as there are several clubs with a deficit at shortstop and Kozma has experience starting in the big leagues. Now he’ll go provide the Cardinals with extra depth at Memphis, though, and try to earn himself another call-up while possibly continuing to market himself for a trade.