Keith Olbermann does not usually break baseball news, but that is what he did on Thursday afternoon when he tweeted that veteran right-handed reliever Pat Neshek has joined the St. Louis Cardinals. The contract is a minor league deal with a major league camp invitation. (The signing was confirmed by the Cardinals several hours later.) CBS' Jon Heyman adds that Neshek will earn a $1 million salary if he makes the big-league club. The Post-Dispatch adds there is an opt-out clause if Neshek is not in the majors by the end of April.
The 33-year-old came up in the Twins organization after being their sixth-round pick in 2002. Neshek reached Minnesota in 2006 and remained there until requiring Tommy John surgery in 2008. He missed the entire 2009 season before pitching mostly in Triple-A for the Twins in 2010.
Neshek moved to the Padres on a waiver deal in spring 2011 and worked in Triple-A that year before becoming a free agent. He returned to Triple-A after not making the Orioles in 2012 before being sold to Oakland that August. After pitching for the A's in the 2012 post-season, Neshek returned to the club for 2013 on a one-year deal worth $1 million. He was designated for assignment in late August and became a free agent following the World Series.
The sidearmer has a career 3.07 ERA in 214 1/3 innings over 226 Major League appearances. Neshek fanned 216 but issued 88 free passes. Due to his unorthodox motion, he has been particularly tough on right-handed batters, with a career line of .181/.257/.313 against them.
With 2012 closer Jason Motte currently working his way back from his own Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals could have a relief spot available to open the season. Neshek may be in a position to pitch his way onto the team with a good spring.
Neshek becomes the 19th non-roster invitee in Cardinals camp, joining the 39 players currently on the 40-man roster. Pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Florida on Wednesday, February 12.
Tip: Check out the Roster Matrix, where the entire Cardinals system is displayed by level and position on one page and all player transactions are noted year ‘round.
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