Leake, Oh among group of new Cardinals

Offseason additions will play crucial role for club in 2016

Leake, Oh among group of new Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- As a countdown to the start of Spring Training, cardinals.com continues with a series of stories designed to examine various issues, address important questions and spotlight players who could be critical to the Cardinals' success.

After highlighting a group of bounce-back candidates in the first installment of this series, it's time to take a look at the organization's fresh faces. The Cardinals feature six players on their 40-man roster who were signed and/or acquired from other clubs this offseason. Here is a look at each of the six:

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LHP Jayson Aquino: In an under-the-radar move, the Cardinals claimed Aquino off waivers from the Indians during the Winter Meetings. He made 24 Class A Advanced appearances in 2015 for three organizations and likely will get a chance to open the season as part of the Double-A Springfield rotation. Aquino, 23, is unlikely to make a big league impact in 2016.

RHP Matt Bowman: Bowman became the club's first Rule 5 pick in four years when the Cardinals took him with the final selection of the first round. The 24-year-old right-hander had a tough year with the Mets' Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate in 2015 -- he went 7-16 with a 5.53 ERA and a 1.679 WHIP -- but should be helped by getting out of a hitter-friendly park. The Cardinals will consider him for a long-relief role this spring.

RHP Mike Leake: Leake signed the largest contract the franchise has given a free-agent starting pitcher when he agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal in December. He'll slot into the middle of the team's rotation and will be relied upon to help cover the innings lost by John Lackey's departure and Lance Lynn's absence. Leake's track record as a rotation workhorse is solid, as he ranks fifth in the National League in starts and innings pitched since 2010.

RHP Seung Hwan Oh: After years of working to increase and improve the organization's presence in Asia, the Cardinals finally have a chance for tangible payoff. A decorated closer out of South Korea, Oh will fill a spot in the back end of the Cardinals' bullpen. The right-hander, whose nickname is "The Final Boss," will serve as a setup man for closer Trevor Rosenthal alongside Jordan Walden, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Jonathan Broxton.

Oh gets work visa; expected to report on time

C Brayan Pena: Acknowledging the need to monitor Yadier Molina's workload more closely, the Cardinals signed Pena to a two-year contract in late November. The veteran backstop made a career-high 84 starts for the Reds last year and may need to play regularly in April if Molina is still recovering from thumb surgery.

INF Jedd Gyorko: The Cards swapped outfielder Jon Jay for Gyorko in December, hopeful that Gyorko, who is under contract through 2019, can provide backup at all four infield positions. The right-handed-hitting Gyorko will specifically complement second baseman Kolten Wong, who showed fatigue late last season. Gyorko's power potential also intrigues the club.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.