This is a weird one, and I’m sure there’s a lot more context going on – as Cubs fans might remember all too well from the last time a big-league-caliber player was sent out, and instead chose to go home for a bit.
Cardinals utility man Yairo Muñoz was looking like a very good bench guy in 2018 after being acquired in the Stephen Piscotty trade. He had a very down 2019, but at age 24, I don’t know that anyone thinks it was reason to suggest he didn’t have a future in the big leagues given his ability to play all over.
But then today, this happened out of nowhere. The line at the bottom:
We have made the following roster moves: pic.twitter.com/eYi5Sy1Ye4
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 7, 2020
Muñoz, now 25, has minor league options left, so you immediately knew something weird was going on for him to be released, rather than just sent to minor league camp to open the season at AAA.
Well, apparently this is what led to the release:
Yairo Muñoz simply left camp and returned to the Dominican Republic, John Mozeliak said, so the #STLCards released him.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) March 7, 2020
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) March 7, 2020
So … was he that pissed off that he wasn’t going to make the team out of Spring Training? Or did he think the “writing on the wall” was that he was going to be waived? Is he just tired of playing baseball? Is there something more personal going on? Note that Muñoz was set to begin the season on the IL with a hamstring strain, but again, not sure what the impact there is with respect to him walking away.
No idea on any of this. This isn’t really the same as the Tommy La Stella situation, mind you, where he was in contact with the Cubs about his unique situation and eventually returned to the team. Muñoz just flat out left, apparently, and didn’t even tell anyone. Bizarre.
What happens next for him is going to be interesting to see, because like I said, unless the hamstring injury is extraordinarily severe, he’s a probably a big-league-caliber bench guy – or at least is easily a AAA player who would get a look. But given the separation, are a lot of teams gonna jump on picking him up at this point? Seems like due diligence would be necessary, though the injury will give teams time, I suppose.
UPDATE: Sounds like the Cardinals are as confused as everyone else. Manager Mike Shildt, per the Post-Dispatch: “More opportunities were going to come Yairo’s way with the extra (spot) on the bench. He was going to see more opportunities. I wish him the best. I wish I had a better explanation. It’s been baffling.”
And President John Mozeliak: “We can either wait this out but I don’t feel that’s really in our best interests because the likelihood of him coming back and being happy didn’t seem to have a very high probability. It’s very odd. I knew there was frustration brewing, and last year I knew there were some situations that he really wasn’t happy with how he was being used. So in a way I’m not surprised, but I’m completely surprised because this never happens.”