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Cardinals trade Stephen Piscotty to Athletics

Stephen Piscotty is headed to Oakland as the Cardinals clear their logjam of outfielders.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres Photo by Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics have acquired outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman first reported late Wednesday night. Minor-league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock are headed to the Cardinals in return. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle was the first to suggest that a deal was in the works on Wednesday.

The Cardinals already had a logjam of outfielders heading into this offseason, and that group became even more crowded on Wednesday as St. Louis acquired two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. With Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, and Tommy Pham likely to form the Cardinals’ everyday starting outfield in 2018, there wasn’t going to be regular playing time for Piscotty, and he became expendable.

Piscotty is a native of Pleasanton, California, which is roughly 30 miles away from Oakland. His mother was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year, so the move gives him an opportunity to be closer to her as she battles the disease. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold wrote as the move was being discussed Wednesday that it was “inspired in part” by the Cardinals’ desire to get Piscotty closer to home.

Piscotty endured a rough 2017 campaign—one that many have suggested could’ve been affected by the stress surrounding his mother’s diagnosis—as he hit just .235/.342/.438 with nine homers in 401 plate appearances. For the most part, though, the 26-year-old has been a very good contributor, as he has a .268/.346/.438 slash line with 38 home runs in 1,306 big-league plate appearances. Piscotty is likely to fill one of Oakland’s two corner outfield spots on an everyday basis with Matt Joyce filling the other and Khris Davis shifting to DH.

Piscotty is entering the second season of a six-year, $33.5 million contract with a $15 million club option (and $1 million buyout) for 2023. Thus, if he regains his previous form or achieves new heights with the Athletics, his contract will be a great value, but if he continues to struggle, the contract could end up being a negative for Oakland as they continually deal with payroll concerns.

Munoz was rated as the Athletics’ No. 13 prospect by MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old hit .300/.330/.464 with 13 homers in 477 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017. He has minor-league experience at second base, third base, shortstop, and center field, making him a strong candidate to step into a utility role for the Cardinals at some point, perhaps as soon as next summer if injuries occur.

Schrock, who was ranked as Oakland’s No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is a left-handed hitting second baseman who has consistently hit for average and gotten on base. He hit .321/.379/.422 with seven homers and just 42 strikeouts through 457 plate appearances in 2017, and he has a .324/.372/.439 career slash line with 18 home runs and only 100 strikeouts in 1,219 PAs over three seasons.