Working to get their roster down to the 25-man opening day limit and eliminate redundancy, on Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals traded shortstop Julio Lugo to the Baltimore Orioles. The deal is pending MLB approval, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, likely due to salary considerations involved.
With the prospect of his playing time reduced following the signing of veteran free agent Felipe Lopez on February 26, the 34-year-old Lugo expressed concern about his role and said he was playing during the spring for all 30 teams. In his first and only spring training camp with St. Louis, he batted just .242 (8-for-33 with two doubles and a home run).
Lugo, whose entire salary of $11 million this season except for the major league minimum of $400,000 is being paid for by his former club, the Boston Red Sox, is in the final year of a four-year, $36 million contract signed with the Sox prior to the 2007 season.
The ten-year MLB veteran was born in the Dominican Republic, but grew up in Brooklyn. His career line is .271/.336/.391 amassed over 1,237 major league contests with Houston, Tampa Bay, the Dodgers, Boston and St. Louis.
Lugo joined the Cardinals on July 22, 2009 in a controversial trade in which outfielder Chris Duncan and cash considerations went to the Red Sox. Chris’ father, Cardinals coach Dave Duncan, was highly critical of the deal and it looked for awhile like the pitching guru might leave the club as a result.
The roster ramifications of this trade are not yet fully clear, though the Post-Dispatch reports all three contending outfielders will make the club – Joe Mather, Nick Stavinoha and Allen Craig. The Cardinals could also have decided to add a third catcher due to the injury situation with Yadier Molina and Jason LaRue or recall infielder Tyler Greene from Memphis.
Update 9:30 a.m. CDT Thursday: The Baltimore Sun reports that the Cardinals will only receive a player to be named later for Lugo and the O's, like the Cardinals, will only be on the hook for the MLB minimum portion of Lugo's salary.
Update 11:30 a.m. CDT Thursday: The Cardinals confirm the trade is either for a player to be named later or cash considerations. As such, St. Louis may opt to not take a player in return.
The Post-Dispatch reports that Lugo had in fact requested a trade due to playing time concerns but GM John Mozeliak held off doing so until the club got through camp healthy on the middle infield.
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