The Cardinals announced on Thursday that pitchers Andrew Suárez and Casey Lawrence have elected free agency after being outrighted off of the 40-man roster. In addition, the team sent three more players, right-hander Kyle Leahy and infielders Irving Lopez and Juniel Querecuto, outright to Triple-A Memphis.
The moves clear five spots on the team’s 40-man roster, bringing the total down to 35. Not so coincidentally, the Cardinals currently have five players on the 60-day IL who will need spots on the 40-man following the conclusion of the World Series: Dylan Carlson, Brendan Donovan, Packy Naughton, Wilking Rodriguez, and Guillermo Zuñiga.
Suárez appeared in 13 games for St. Louis this season, pitching 27.2 innings in a long relief role. The southpaw was little more than a mop-up man, pitching to a 7.16 ERA and a 5.67 SIERA, while walking nearly as many batters as he struck out. He did, however, look much more comfortable at Triple-A, posting a 4.08 ERA in 64 innings with the Memphis Redbirds.
Lawrence didn’t have much more success than Suárez, pitching to a 6.59 ERA and 5.05 SIERA in 27.1 innings of long relief. Those aren’t great numbers for the 35-year-old journeyman, but on the bright side, he did a good job limiting hard contact for the second year in a row, holding opposing batters to an 88.1-mph average exit velocity and finishing with a respectable 4.39 xERA.
Leahy appeared very briefly for the Cardinals in 2023, pitching in three games, facing 15 batters, giving up four runs, and recording five outs. He was optioned in mid-July, barely two weeks after making his MLB debut. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old righty, his numbers at Triple-A weren’t much more impressive than they were in the majors; he posted a 9.74 ERA and a 6.63 FIP through the final two months of the season.
Lopez has been in the Cardinals organization since 2017, when he was taken in the 19th round of the draft. After a strong showing at Triple-A, batting .315 with a 1.001 OPS in 19 games, the 28-year-old made his MLB debut at the end of September. He went hitless in 11 at-bats but recorded his first big league RBI on a sacrifice fly in the final game of the season.
Querecuto, a utility infielder, was a mid-September call-up, appearing in nine games and splitting his time between first, second, and third base. He went 2-for-20 with a single, a double, and a walk. Having been outrighted previously in his career – back in 2016 with the Rays – Querecuto could have elected free agency instead of accepting his outright assignment, but evidently, he has decided to remain in the Cardinals organization. After bouncing around between five organizations in his professional career, it makes sense that he’s interested in sticking with the team that gave him his first shot at big league action in seven years.