St. Louis Cardinals’ Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson, Peter Bourjos Possible Non-Tender Candidates


With the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2014 season having come to an end, it’s time to start thinking about the 2015 season, and there are three players in particular from the 2014 roster who could be at risk as the planning for next year begins. Infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielders Shane Robinson and Peter Bourjos are arbitration-eligible, which creates the possibility that any of them could be non-tendered and replaced with a cheaper option.

In his fourth full season with the big-league club, Descalso saw the fewest at-bats of his career as he fell behind newly-signed veteran Mark Ellis in the pecking order, particularly in the early season. In 88 at-bats preceding the All-Star break, Descalso struggled significantly, hitting .182/.234/.239. He turned it back on after the break, though, hitting .315 in 73 at-bats.

Because Descalso is a lefthanded hitter and can play all four infield positions, it would seem that he would still have value to the Cardinals. With that said, he’s heading into his second year of arbitration eligibility, and if the Cardinals prefer Pete Kozma as their primary backup middle infielder, they might want someone cheaper than Descalso for what amounts to one of the last two spots on the bench. There’s not necessarily a clear candidate to take the position, however; lefthanded-hitting Greg Garcia didn’t really show anything during his trio of brief big-league stints, while shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz probably needs another full year in the minors before he’s ready to contribute.

Descalso voiced some frustration and wondered aloud about his future during the Cardinals’ locker clean out day to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold, saying:

"‘“We’ll see what happens,” said utility infielder Daniel Descalso, who will be arbitration eligible for the second time this winter. “Obviously I didn’t get a chance to play a lot this year. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity. I don’t know if there is going to be any more opportunity going forward here. I would like that chance to play. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”"

In the same way, Bourjos is likely safe because of the limited options to replace him. The 27-year-old had a disappointing season overall, as he went into the year expecting to be the starting center fielder but ended up at the back of the bench, hitting .231 in 264 at-bats. With that said, he provides value as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.

It’s still possible that Bourjos could be at risk because of the emergence of young outfielders Randal Grichuk and Oscar Taveras, which could leave him as the fifth outfielder going into 2015. He’ll receive an increase over the $1.2 million that he earned in 2014, and if there aren’t going to be too many at-bats available for him, it’s possible that the Cardinals could elect to give that time to younger players.

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Tommy Pham, who played in six games as a September call-up this year, could be a candidate for that spot. Other possibilities as the season goes on could be top prospect Stephen Piscotty, who hit .288/.355/.406 in his first season in Triple-A, and former second-rounder Charlie Tilson, who impressed while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A this year. Particularly with the expectation that Piscotty is going to graduate to the majors at some point in 2015, the Cardinals may elect to avoid paying Bourjos over $1 million, knowing that they’ll likely face an outfield roster crunch whenever they feel the need to promote Piscotty.

Robinson, a scrappy outfielder who has spent the past four seasons shuttling between the majors and Triple-A Memphis, would be a logical non-tender candidate now that he is both arbitration-eligible and out of minor-league options. Robinson, who hit .150 in 60 at-bats this year, makes his most significant contributions on defense, so he could rather easily be replaced by an organizational player like Pham or another minor-league free agent.

The deadline for the Cardinals to offer contracts to unsigned players is December 2, at which point a decision on these three players would have to be made.