VerHagen was surprisingly the first player signed after the lockout ended in March, with the Cards inking him to a two-year deal with a $5.5MM guarantee. He had spent the previous two seasons in Japan and fared well enough to return to the big leagues. Unfortunately, after throwing just 4 2/3 innings over three appearances, he landed on the injured list due to a right hip impingement. Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat adds that VerHagen had his return delayed by a bout with COVID. VerHagen is capable of either starting or relieving and started in his two rehab appearances but threw only 1 2/3 innings and 2 innings in them, respectively.
Manager Oliver Marmol announced today that Adam Wainwright will come off the COVID IL and start Sunday’s game, as relayed by John Denton of MLB.com, but his last start was May 4. Since he didn’t go on a rehab assignment, it’s possible he won’t have as much length as usual due to that layoff, making a multi-inning option like VerHagen a valuable safety net. The club has a vacancy on its 40-man roster and won’t need to make a corresponding move for Waino, though he will need a slot on the active roster.
As for Naughton, this is already his second time being optioned in recent weeks. As part of the new CBA that was implemented in March, players with options can no longer be sent to the minors with total abandon. Each player can only be optioned five times per season, whereas there was no limit at all under the prior CBA. Due to the shortened Spring Training caused by the lockout, MLB and the MLBPA agreed that options prior to May 2 wouldn’t count against this limit, helping teams navigate the unusual ramp up period. The southpaw came up to make a spot start to cover for Wainwright’s absence and can now only be recalled and optioned three more times on the year.