St. Louis Cardinals Reportedly in Contention for Travis Ishikawa


If any St. Louis Cardinals fans still have any animosity towards Travis Ishikawa for ending the Cards’ 2014 postseason run, they might want to get over it quickly. According to’s Chris Cotillo, the Cardinals are seen as a strong fit for Ishikawa, who was designated for assignment by the Giants last weekend.

The 31-year-old Ishikawa, who hit a walk-off home run in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS to send the Giants to the World Series, would provide a much-needed set of skills to the Cardinals, who suffered the loss of starting first baseman Matt Adams, presumably for the season, earlier this week.

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Like Adams, Ishikawa is a lefthanded-hitting first baseman, which would make him a solid backup, or possibly even a platoon partner, for newly-anointed starter Mark Reynolds. Though Ishikawa’s strongest skill has always been his defense at first base, he’s been a pretty solid hitter during the course of his career. He’s a .259/.322/.397 career hitter, and he provides a very able presence off the bench, hitting .278/.333/.389 as a pinch hitter for his career.

After getting designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early part of 2014, Ishikawa spent most of the season in the minors before re-emerging in the majors with the Giants, the organization that drafted him, in late July. After spending most of the regular season as a role-playing lefthanded pinch-hitter (and doing a good job of it, hitting .280 in pinch-hitting appearances), he picked up some versatility late in the season and played left field for the first time as a big-leaguer. After starting just three regular season games in left, Ishikawa became the Giants’ primary left fielder for the postseason and took full advantage of the opportunity, hitting .256/.326/.385 over 16 games, including an NLCS in which he hit .385/.429/.769 with a homer and seven RBI.

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Ishikawa was projected to return as part of the Giants’ bench this season and was given a $1.1 million-dollar contract, but with the team facing a roster crunch, he ended up on the disabled list with a back injury to start the season. The player who assumed Ishikawa’s would-be spot on the team, outfielder Justin Maxwell, had a great April and forced a difficult roster decision. Ultimately, Ishikawa ended up being designated for assignment due to Maxwell’s strong performance and an abundance of lefthanded bats on the roster, despite the fact that Ishikawa was a postseason hero and hit .294/.342/.368 over a lengthy 18-game minor-league rehab assignment this season.

With Adams out of the mix for the Cardinals, the team doesn’t really have a legitimate backup first baseman, and Reynolds doesn’t really fit the profile of an everyday starter himself, possessing just a .230 career batting average and .324 OBP despite his light-tower power. Ishikawa would provide another option at first base while giving the Cardinals extra depth in the outfield, serving as a reliable bat off the bench, and giving them some well-tested experience for their seemingly yearly postseason run.

It wouldn’t be at all difficult for the Cardinals to fit Ishikawa onto the big-league roster, either; third-string catcher Ed Easley has been with the major-league club since Adams went on the DL and seems to be a placeholder until the Cardinals can find a more-established backup first baseman or are forced to recall one of their first basemen from Triple-A, either Xavier Scruggs or Dan Johnson, as need dictates.

Next: What's the Cardinals' Plan to Replace Matt Adams?