LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. • With the chance to address their logjam of outfielders and make a move that was beyond baseball, the Cardinals have traded Stephen Piscotty to Oakland for two minor-league infielders.
The deal was completed Thursday morning after medical reviews (see below), and a Cardinals executive referred to it as "bittersweet."
By returning to the Bay Area, Piscotty is able to play closer to his home in Pleasanton, Calif., and also be near his mother, Gretchen. She was diagnosed with ALS this past summer, and at one point Piscotty took a leave of absence from the Cardinals to be with family.
"You are never making a player trade simply for geographic or sentimental reasons," said John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations. "It had to be something that made sense for us. There were certainly some opportunities to move him elsewhere. When you are looking at how to break a tie, clearly that did play into it."
In exchange for Piscotty, the Cardinals will receive shortstop Yairo Munoz and second baseman Max Schrock. Both infielders are two of the A's top prospects and they fill a hole in the Cardinals' depth chart.
Munoz, 22, hit .300/.330/.464 in a season spent at Class AA and Class AAA. He hit 13 home runs this past year, drove in 68 runs, and played 112 games. MiLB.com ranked him the 13th-best prospect in the Oakland A's organization.
Munoz is on the Cardinals' 40-man roster now, and the Cardinals see him as a capable backup shortstop who could fill the role that would have been held by Aledmys Diaz.
Schrock, 23, hit .321/.379/.422 with an .801 OPS while playing second base. He hit seven home runs with 19 doubles in 106 games. He's considered one of the top-10 prospects in the minors at second base. MiLB.com ranked him the 17th-best prospect in Oakland's farm system.
The Cardinals believe Schrock can play second, third, and first in the infield and that his bat will dictate how he advances. The versatility will allow taht to happen when an opportunity presents itself.
"Schrock is someone that has that very excellent offensive profile for us," Mozeliak said. "Everywhere he's been, he's hit. He too gives you a lot of defensive flexibility. You can move him around. When you are looking at all the different things we are trying to do, it's nice to be able to find a couple of players we can stick right into Class AA or Class AAA and know they are going to be productive."
Piscotty, 26, had a complicated 2017 that included a swing change that led to a slow start and a series of injuries that interrupted the first few months of the season. A year after hitting 22 homers with a .800 OPS, Piscotty's batting line sank to .235/.342/.367 with a .708 OPS. He hit only nine home runs and wasn't able to establish himself as an everyday player.
With Piscotty traded and Magneuris Sierra about to be, the Cardinals have cleared two outfielders from the 40-man roster.
Marcell Ozuna is set to join the team as its left fielder.
Goold's earlier story:
The deal that would send Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty back home to the Bay Area has been agreed upon but is awaiting results of a medical review Thursday before it could be finalized.
Piscotty had a physical and the A's were in the process of looking through its results before agreeing to the deal with the Cardinals.
The Cardinals and A's agreed on a trade that would send Piscotty to Oakland and bring back two minor leaguers. The Cardinals would get minor-league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, as first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle and confirmed by a source. If Oakland has concerns about Piscotty's physical, the teams would talk about the Cardinals covering some of Piscotty's salary.
Members of the Cardinals front office have remained at the winter meetings with a few pending deals to complete. The Cardinals also expect to finalize their trade for Marcell Ozuna on Thursday afternoon.
Piscotty signed a six-year, $33.5-million extension with the Cardinals this past spring.
He had a season tested by injuries, and early in the year he learned that his mother had been diagnosed with ALS. In 107 games and 341 at-bats, Piscotty batted .235 with 9 homers and 39 RBIs.
The Cardinals discussed Piscotty with the A's at the trade deadline, and they re-engaged this offseason looking for an opportunity to give the Stanford grad a chance to get closer to home.
The Cardinals declined comment when asked about whether they approached Piscotty with the idea of getting him where he could play closer to his mother.
• CAREER STATS: Stephen Piscotty