ORLANDO — After the Braves lost left-hander Scott Diamond to the Twins in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, they selected lefty Rowdy Hardy (Royals) right-hander Eliecer Cardenas (Twins) in the minor league phase of the draft.
Cardenas, 22, was 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA in 38 games (23 starts) at Class-A in 2010. Hardy, 28, went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 36 relief appearances in Double-A, with 57 strikeouts and 18 walks in 81 innings.
Players selected in the major league phase must be kept on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for the entire upcoming season, or be offered back to the team they came from for half of the $50,000 claiming price.
“We knew all along he was probably the most at-risk guy left off our major league roster,” Wren said of Diamond, 24, who was 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 27 starts last season in Double-A and Triple-A. “But we just didn’t think we could put together our roster this winter with all the spots filled.”
Wren thought there was a better chance to keep Diamond if a team had to draft him in the Rule 5 and keep him on its roster all season, than if the Braves put him on the 40-man protected roster this winter.
That’s because in the latter case, if the Braves had then needed to take him off in order to open a roster spot later for another acquisition or a non-roster player who made the team in the spring, another team could have simply claimed Diamond on waivers and optioned him to one of its minor league affiliates.
The Twins must keep him on their major league team all season, or offer him back to the Braves for $25,000.
Wags still on roster: Retired closer Billy Wagner still occupies a spot on the Braves’ 40-man roster, but Wren said that’s merely a procedural matter. Wagner has no intention of pitching again, but hasn’t gotten around to filing his retirement papers.
Wren said he spoke with Wagner’s agent last month and was told it would be done soon. Wren said it’s not a problem at this time, because the Braves haven’t needed the roster spot yet. When they do, then could drop Wagner from the roster even if he has not filed his retirement papers yet.
Theoretically, if the Braves dropped Wagner from their roster before he retires, another team could offer him a $15 million contract for 2011. But again, Wagner has never wavered in his retirement decision since he announced it early in the 2010 season, and the Braves have no expectations that he will.
“The player has to retire; the team can’t retire him,” Wren said. “I talked to his agent a few weeks ago. They just haven’t got around to filing the papers. And I told him, it’s just not an issue for the roster spot today. He said, we’ll get to it. They just haven’t done it yet. But it’s not a problem.”