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Cardinals let Miles, Flores, Johnson go to free agency


Cardinals let Miles, Flores, Johnson go to free agency
The Cardinals continued reshaping their bullpen and may have cleared a spot on their bench Friday by choosing not to tender contracts to three players on the 40-man roster.

Utility player Aaron Miles and lefty relievers Randy Flores and Tyler Johnson were all notified of the Cardinals' decision not to table contracts by the deadline of 11 p.m. (St. Louis time). All three wake up this morning as free agents, though any could re-sign with the Cardinals.

Letting Flores, who is coming off an inconsistent season, and Johnson, who is coming off shoulder surgery, hit the open market is not unexpected. The move with Miles was less certain, though the Cardinals did the same thing last year and, a short time later, signed the switch hitter to a $1.4 million contract.

The Cardinals had approached infielder Felipe Lopez about returning. Unable to trade Adam Kennedy at his request, the Cardinals plan to have him back as the starting second baseman. That limited their ability to guarantee Lopez an everyday role, one he found Friday with Arizona, finalizing a one-year deal reported to be for $3.5 million.

The Cardinals have a handful of younger - and less experienced - options to fill the utility infield role. Brendan Ryan has started 94 games the past two seasons, including 75 in the middle infield. Prospect Tyler Greene has experience in Class AAA at shortstop, second and third. Brian Barden is a skilled defensive player whom the Cardinals picked off waivers from Arizona in 2007.

A year ago, the Cardinals also didn't offer a contract to Miles, and the infielder said he still wanted to return because "there's never been a time when I've felt buried." Each of the past three seasons, he has started as the utility infielder and worked his way, at the least, into a part-time role.

The move leaves the Cardinals with 34 players on the 40-man roster. By sending the three players to free agency, the Cardinals will be able to negotiate with them without the rules of arbitration. Among the players the team tendered offers to were outfielders Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel and pitcher Todd Wellemeyer. All now have deals for the 2009 season, though each could choose to negotiate a salary with the team or have it set by arbitration.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 13, 2008

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