Cardinals call up Gant, release Broxton

Cardinals call up Gant, release Broxton

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals made a roster move Wednesday to increase the flexibility -- and potentially the strength -- of their bullpen. The team recalled right-hander John Gant from Triple-A Memphis and gave right-hander Jonathan Broxton his unconditional release from the club in a corresponding move.

Broxton, 32, had struggled this year, posting a career-worst 6.89 ERA. The right-hander has pitched in the Majors since 2005 and with the Cardinals since July 2015.

"Anytime you have to release a player, it's always disappointing," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "Especially someone that is a good teammate, well-liked, well-respected, so that's certainly unfortunate."

Mozeliak said the move was performance-based, but that it would also increase his flexibility in being able to move pitchers up and down between the Minors and the bullpen, something Mozeliak said the team lacked early on.

"When you had guys signed to multi-year contracts, guys with no options, the flexibility in what we were trying to accomplish was very difficult," Mozeliak said. "You can see a much more open, I-55 corridor now than obviously we could've in the month of April."

With Gant in the clubhouse, Mozeliak said he could also envision some changes with how the relievers are used. Most notably, he said left-hander Tyler Lyons, who has been primarily used as a long man this season, could see his role change.

Gant, who pitched in 20 games and started seven last season with the Braves, is more than capable of pitching multiple innings. In three starts in Triple-A Memphis this year, he pitched a combined 12 1/3 innings, which included a five-inning outing back on May 27. It's worth noting he missed the first month and a half of the 2017 season while recovering from a groin injury he sustained during Spring Training.

As for the leadership factor, while Gant is nearly a decade younger then Broxton, Mozeliak said that wasn't his primary concern with the move.

"Of course, that's a factor," Mozeliak said. "But when you think about where this club is and the struggles we're having, changing that dynamic or that look in the bullpen is more important than just worrying about sort of just relations and solely mentoring."

As of Wednesday morning, the Cardinals entered the day last in the NL in bullpen ERA.

"Most people didn't think it was [working]," Mozeliak said. "I think getting people out will create leadership."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Cardinals on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.