ST. LOUIS -- Brought in as an experienced right-handed bat off the bench and a veteran voice in the clubhouse, Ty Wigginton was released by the Cardinals on Tuesday, only about one-fourth of the way through the two-year, $5-million contract he signed in December.
While the Cardinals appreciated Wigginton's leadership abilities, it reached the point where his presence on the roster was no longer beneficial. Wigginton was going to continue to start only sparingly, and his 5-for-32 mark (with no homers and no RBIs) as a pinch-hitter was not making him much of an asset off the bench either.
The Cardinals offered Wigginton playing time in the Minors, but the utilityman declined, a choice well within his rights, given his service time. That makes Wigginton a free agent, though the Cardinals are still on the hook for the remainder of his contract.
"It was something where it comes down to production," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We just kept trying to find a way to make it work, and unfortunately, he never really got a lot of opportunities. It wasn't an easy decision, but this team is out here to perform, and it's about winning. We have to put our best 25 out there."
The Cardinals envisioned Wigginton proving some pop off the bench and serving as a backup at first base. He finished his Cardinals career without a home run and found himself low on the depth chart with Matt Adams' emergence.
Wigginton, 35, hit .158 in 57 at-bats. He appeared in games as a left fielder, third baseman and first baseman.
"I wanted to make sure he didn't have any questions or doubt that we absolutely appreciated what he was able to do for us as a team and not to take that for granted," said manager Mike Matheny, who talked to Wigginton multiple times since the veteran was informed of the club's intent. "A lot of the good things that have happened around here are because of people like Ty Wigginton.
"Now, I know that gets people up in arms because they want to keep throwing statistics around. I don't care. I know what happens in our clubhouse is happening because you have the right kind of people that are making an impact on other people. Ty made a positive impact."
The Cardinals used the open roster spot to add catching depth, though Mozeliak confirmed that the move to release Wigginton was made independent of the injury concerns with Yadier Molina.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.