St. Louis Cardinals Acquire IF Jedd Gyorko from San Diego Padres for OF Jon Jay


The Cardinals got the respectable middle infield depth they wanted behind Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta, while giving Jon Jay a fresh start elsewhere.

The St. Louis Cardinals kept their busy offseason going on Tuesday, acquiring infielder Jedd Gyorko from the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Jon Jay.

The 27-year-old Gyorko got off to a spectacular start as a rookie in San Diego, hitting .249/.301/.444 with 23 homers and 63 RBI, and many saw him as the Padres’ second baseman of the future. It’s been somewhat of a rough road for him since then, however; he dealt with plantar fasciitis for a large part of 2014, being limited to a .210/.280/.333 line with 10 homers and 51 RBI in 443 plate appearances.

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After returning to health in 2015, he lost playing time to Yangervis Solarte and Corey Spangenberg and was demoted to Triple-A El Paso in early June. He was recalled at the end of the month and was deployed in more of a utility role from there on out. Interestingly, Gyorko had never played a game at shortstop throughout his major-league career until starting there for the Padres on August 17, but from there on out he received regular duty at the position, playing in 29 games there through the end of the season.

Gyorko’s most comfortable position is second, meaning he’s a logical backup for Kolten Wong, who wore down towards the end of the 2015 season. Obviously his stint at shortstop near the end of the season also provides intrigue for him as the backup to Jhonny Peralta, who went through a bit of a tailspin himself. Gyorko will also likely end up being the backup to third baseman Matt Carpenter, though he’ll have to refresh himself at the hot corner after not seeing any action there since the 2013 season. It is worth noting that Gyorko spent most of his time in the minors at third before converting to second in 2012.

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Gyorko will be a very expensive backup middle infielder, as the Padres gave him a five-year, $35 million-dollar deal in 2014 (just one season into his major-league career). Gyorko is still owed $33 million from that contract ($4M in 2016, $6M in 2017, $9M in 2018 and 2019, and $13M or a $1M buyout in 2020). The Padres will take on $7 million of the remaining money Gyorko is owed, though, so the Cardinals will end up paying him roughly $26 million (unless they by some chance decide to pay him his full salary in 2020).

Jay continues the exodus of Cardinals outfielders which began last week when Peter Bourjos was exposed to the waiver wire and claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies. Considering the chance that Jason Heyward could sign elsewhere in free agency, it’s quite possible that the Cardinals could carry just one outfielder (Matt Holliday) with substantial starting experience in 2016, otherwise handing the keys over to young players like Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Tommy Pham.

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Jay, a lifetime .287/.354/.384 hitter, could be a perfect fit in San Diego’s spacious ballpark due to his great contact rate and baserunning ability. He’ll need to get healthy, though, as complications from offseason wrist surgery wrecked his 2015 season. Over 245 plate appearances, Jay hit for a career-worst .210/.306/.257 line.