The St. Louis Cardinals gave closer Trevor Rosenthal his unconditional release Monday.
Rosenthal is one of five relievers to save 100 games in a Cardinals uniform and was eligible for arbitration at the close of this season. It became clear St. Louis would not make him a qualifying offer, however, when he went down in August with an elbow injury.
He has since had Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery and will likely miss the 2018 season.
Rosenthal, 27, was the team’s 21st-round pick of the 2009 draft, but he quickly ascended the minor-league ranks and reached the big leagues by 2012. He became entrenched as the Cardinals closer, saving 45 in 2014 and a club-record 48 games in 2015.
Arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career in 2016, Rosenthal got a raise from $530,000 a year to $5.6 million. But he lost his job as the closer by June 25 when his ERA balooned to 5.63 with an average of 7.9 walks per nine innings.
He earned his way back to the closer role in the second half of 2017, saving 11 games only to land on the 10-day disabled list with elbow problems Aug. 17. He never made it back.
The Cardinals are believed to be in the market for a late-inning bullpen arm, possibly Juan Nicasio, who was signed after the waiver deadline to replace Rosenthal and Seung-Hwan Oh.
St. Louis also announced Monday that it made a qualifying offer to starting pitcher Lance Lynn, 30, who was 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 2017, just a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
Lynn is expected to turn down the offer, worth $17.4 million, for 2018 and enter the free-agent market. The qualifying offer, however, entitles the Cardinals to a compensatory draft pick should Lynn sign with another team.
He made $7.5 million each of the last two seasons and is believed to be seeking a deal worth four years and about $56 million. The Cardinals have not had any talks with Lynn or his agent, but have not ruled out his return.
Lynn and Rosenthal join three other Cardinals on the free-agent market: Oh, Nicasio and reliever Zach Duke.
In other roster moves Monday, the Cardinals outrighted infielder Alex Mejia and catcher Alberto Rosario from the team’s 40-man roster. Mejia will be assigned to Class AAA Memphis and Rosario is now eligible to become a minor-league free agent.
Following the moves Monday, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster is at 35 players.