PITTSBURGH -- On Tuesday, hours after announcing that they had optioned left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to Triple-A, the Cardinals traded him to the Indians for Minor League shortstop Juan Herrera. Cleveland will assume the remainder of Rzepczynski's $1.1 million contract this season.
Prospect acquired by Cardinals
- Juan Herrera, SS: The Indians signed Herrera out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 when he was 17 years old. Now 20, Herrera has spent this season in short-season Mahoning Valley, where he hit .275 with a .366 on-base percentage in 39 games. Herrera is a slap hitter with above-average speed. He has minimal power now and his slight frame (he's listed at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds) means he's unlikely to ever develop much pop. The Indians developed Herrera as a shortstop and he is a capable defender with a strong arm. His future, however, is probably as a second baseman or utility infielder.
-- Teddy Cahill
Acquired at the Trade Deadline two years ago, Rzepczynski was a critical bullpen piece on the 2011 World Series championship club. But he struggled early in the 2012 season and went on to finish that year with a 4.24 ERA. This season has been even worse. He allowed seven runs on 13 hits in his first nine appearances and was sent to Memphis before April ended.
Rzepczynski returned to St. Louis last week and made two appearances before leaving the team on Tuesday. With two other left-handers in the bullpen and lefty Sam Freeman having a strong season in Memphis, the Cards saw Rzepczynski as expendable.
"I just felt like he wasn't going to get much of an opportunity here," general manager John Mozeliak said. "His agent had come to me and suggested that if we could find something to try and explore it. It just made sense. It's not fair to him to just sit down in Memphis if he's not going to get a chance down here. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out. Obviously, we had success with him at one point. This year it just wasn't working out here."
Rzepczynski becomes the second reliever the club has traded this month, following Mitchell Boggs, who was sent to the Rockies on July 9.
Herrera, 20, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, has been playing in the short-season New York-Penn League, posting a .275/.366/.369 line in 39 games. The Cardinals will keep him in the same league by placing him on the State College Spikes' roster and will play him at short.
"Obviously, we're just trying to stockpile as much talent as we can in our Minor League system, and this is a unique opportunity to do that," Mozeliak said. "We looked at a lot of different options in this one and were trying to really find some Double-A or Triple-A talent but weren't able to do it. We are going to reach a little bit, send him to short-season and see what he's got."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.