ST. LOUIS -- Jeremy Hazelbaker, whose rise to the Majors and quick success there generated one of the feel-good stories of the Cardinals' season, will not be returning in 2017. The D-backs claimed Hazelbaker off waivers, following the Cards' decision to designate the outfielder for assignment.
Hazelbaker was one of two waiver claims made from the Cardinals on Friday. Reliever Dean Kiekhefer was claimed by the Mariners, as well. Both players were lost as part of a roster squeeze, as St. Louis had to clear space in order to activate several players from the 60-day disabled list. Those transactions also happened on Friday.
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A fourth-round Draft pick by the Red Sox in 2009, Hazelbaker played in 751 Minor League games before ascending to the Majors for the first time this season. He earned an Opening Day roster spot on the final day of Spring Training and got off to a strong start in April. Hazelbaker homered twice in the first week and tallied four hits in the Cardinals' home opener. He went on to tie a franchise record with four pinch-hit home runs.
Hazelbaker finished the season with a .235/.295/.480 slash line over 114 games. He tallied 11 hits as a pinch-hitter and started 38 games in the outfield.
The loss of Hazelbaker further thins the Cardinals' outfield depth. The club has already declined Matt Holliday's option, thereby making him a free agent, and it does not intend to extend a qualify offer to free agent Brandon Moss. However, the Cards have stated their intention to add an outfielder -- preferably a center fielder -- this offseason to play alongside projected starters Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk.
Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and Anthony Garcia also remain on the team's 40-man roster as backup-outfield options.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.