Kyle McClellan Back On the Block?

click to enlarge Kyle McClellan Back On the Block?
For most of the offseason it's been a poorly-kept secret the Cardinals are trying to move Kyle McClellan. They signed him back in January to a $2.5 million contract for the 2012 season, and pretty much from the moment the ink dried on the deal K-Mac's name has been floating around as potential trade bait. 

The thing is, John Mozeliak doesn't seem to have had a whole lot of luck trying to deal the right-hander, as evidenced by the fact McClellan is still a Cardinal at the moment. Whatever deals the Cardinal GM may have attempted to put together have apparently not been enough to entice a team into taking McClellan off his hands. 

Now, though, it looks like K-Mac may be back on the block. Or perhaps still on the block. And if he is indeed still on the market, Baltimore may very well be his next home. 

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, via Twitter, reported yesterday the Orioles are currently considering various deals for McClellan, though he is also careful to point out he is unsure how realistic the rumors are now given the Cardinals' concerns about the health of Chris Carpenter's neck. We know the Orioles were one of the teams who showed strong interest in McClellan earlier in the offseason; it now seems they haven't quite yet given up on acquiring him. 

Let me take a load off your mind, Mr. Morosi: Chris Carpenter's neck has virtually nothing to do with how comfortable the Cardinals would be moving Kyle McClellan. By publicly stating they're going to stretch out Lance Lynn as a possible sixth starter candidate, in case Carpenter proves unable to answer the bell by Opening Day, the Cards have effectively made K-Mac completely expendable. The role he was best suited for, that of the long reliever/break-glass-in-case-of starter, is accounted for by a pitcher who likely has a significantly higher ceiling in Lynn. Beyond that, McClellan's most marketable skill is an ability to retire left-handed hitters effectively; that's still a useful skill, but the presence of two lefties likely already in the 'pen largely mitigates the club's need. 

It's nice to see a local kid make good with his hometown team, but the time really has come for the Cards to move in a different direction with McClellan. He was a good soldier last year, taking turns in the starting rotation when Adam Wainwright went down with an elbow injury, but as a reliever K-Mac just doesn't stack up to the other options the Cardinals have available to them. 

As currently constructed, the Cardinals have seven relievers who are essentially locks to make the club: 

Jason Motte
Mitchell Boggs
Fernando Salas
Lance Lynn 
Kyle McClellan

Marc Rzepczynski
J.C. Romero 

Not a bad group at all, and fairly cheap. In fact, McClellan is the most expensive of the bunch. Seven solid relievers, all lined up and ready to go. So what's the problem, you say? Well, the problem is this: Eduardo Sanchez has been the most impressive pitcher in camp so far this spring, and was remarkable last season despite missing some time with a sore shoulder, and has no roster spot. 

Beyond the seven above and Sanchez, the Cardinals also have Adam Ottavino converting to relief work and looking pretty good, Brandon Dickson ready for major league work as a long relief/break-in-case-of starter guy (in other words, he's ready to be Kyle McClellan), and Maikel Cleto, who could probably use some more refining but also could probably pitch as well as K-Mac right now. Not to mention Adam Reifer, who for virtually any other team would be looking at life in 2012 as the first man up for relief work but is buried behind four other guys on the depth chart here. 

If the Cards do bump Lynn to the rotation it could complicate things slightly, but not that much. I know the old saying is you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much pitching, but when you have a bottleneck the likes of which the Cards are currently staring down that bit of the axiom breaks down. Bottom line, the Cardinals have better options for the major league bullpen right now than Kyle McClellan, and he's almost assuredly going to hold a more effective -- not to mention significantly cheaper -- reliever off the roster if he's still here come Opening Day. 

Dealing McClellan would free up a bit of cash, ease the bullpen roster crunch, and improve the relief corps right out of the gate. If there's any chance Mo really can move K-Mac to the Orioles, he should pull the trigger immediately. 
Scroll to read more St. Louis Metro News articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.