Cardinals add Cabrera, Helsley, Thomas and Urias to 40-man roster

By Rob Rains

Two hard-throwing pitchers who could find themselves as part of the Cardinals’ bullpen next season were among four players added to the team’s 40-man roster on Tuesday.

Left-hander Genesis Cabrera and right-hander Ryan Helsley were joined by outfielder Lane Thomas and infielder Ramon Urias, keeping them from being exposed to next month’s Rule 5 draft.

The Cardinals had only two spots open on their 40-man roster but created two additional openings on Tuesday by designating right-handed pitchers Conner Greene and Derian Gonzalez for assignment.

The 22-year-old Cabrera was one of two players the Cardinals obtained from Tampa Bay last summer in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Rays. He has been a starter but is spending this winter pitching out of the bullpen in the Dominican Republic, appearing in 12 games for Licey, where he has allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out 12 in nine innings.

Helsley, 24, was limited to just 70 innings between Double A Springfield and Triple A Memphis last year because of a strained forearm tendon, but has recovered from that injury and is expected to be 100 percent by the start of spring training. Both Cabrera and Helsley throw in the upper 90s and can touch 100 miles per hour with their fastball.

Thomas, 23, led the Cardinals’ minor-league organization in home runs (27) and RBIs (88) last season, spending most of the year at Springfield before finishing the season at Memphis. He was acquired in a 2017 trade from Toronto.

While those three players seemed locks to be added to the roster, the fourth spot was not so certain with the Cardinals ultimately deciding to protect Urias over fellow infielder Max Schrock, right-handed pitcher Junior Fernandez and catcher Dennis Ortega, all of whom will now be eligible to be selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft.

Urias, 24, was signed out of the Mexican League and split this season between Springfield and Memphis. He played all of the infield positions and hit a combined .300 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 90 games.

To create the two extra openings, the Cardinals DFA’d Greene and Gonzalez. Greene was acquired in the Randal Grichuk trade last winter from Toronto and spent most of 2018 in Springfield. He was one of the organization’s players in the Arizona Fall League but struggled, posting an 11.17 ERA.

Gonzalez was injured for much of 2018, logging only 33 innings pitched, mostly at Springfield.

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About Rob Rains 191 Articles
Rob Rains , who runs was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, St. Louis Media HOF 2018, and is a former National League beat writer for USA Today’s Baseball Weekly. For three years he covered the Cardinals for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat until its demise in the 1980s. Rains was awarded the Freedom Forum Grant to teach Journalism for a year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State. Now based in St. Louis, Rains is often a guest on Frank Cusumano’s Pressbox Show on 590AM and has been writing books, magazine articles, and covers the Cardinals and Blues for He has written or co-written more than 30 books, most on baseball, including autobiographies or biographies of Ozzie Smith, Jack Buck, and Red Schoendienst. Rains volunteers his time helping run Rainbows for Kids, a 501 (c)(3) charity for families of children with cancer in the Greater St. Louis Area.

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