Yairo Munoz left spring training without an explanation and was released by the St. Louis Cardinals. On Wednesday, he was signed to a minor-league deal by the Red Sox. Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

 

The Red Sox have signed infielder/outfielder Yairo Munoz to a minor-league contract.

Munoz, who appeared in 196 games over the last two years for the Cardinals, entered spring training with a good chance of making the St. Louis roster before leaving camp earlier this month – without giving the club an explanation – due to frustrations with an injury and his playing time in the past. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Munoz appeared in six spring games before feeling a “pop” in his hamstring and, unbeknownst to the team, flew home to the Dominican Republic before the team had a chance to do an MRI.

The Cardinals then released Munoz, who had complained about playing time after appearing in 88 games last season.

“Last week, he hopped on a plane and flew to the Dominican Republic, unbeknownst to us,” John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, told reporters. “Trying to determine what is the next, best step, we just decided based on what we’re hearing from his agent, maybe cutting ties makes the most sense. He just wasn’t happy here, and was frustrated with how he was used last year. Didn’t like the writing on the wall that he was seeing this year.”

Munoz was productive at times for St. Louis, hitting .273 with 10 homers and 55 RBI over the last two years while appearing at six positions (second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield spots). He still hasn’t spoken publicly about his unusual departure from the organization, which Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt called “baffling” before expressing a concern for the player’s well-being less than three weeks ago.

The Red Sox were apparently comfortable enough with Munoz to offer him a minor-league deal despite the issues he faced in St. Louis. At this point, it’s unclear if the hamstring injury was a minor tweak or something that could cost him a chunk of the 2020 season, if there is one.

Putting the awkward ending with the Cardinals aside, Munoz will give the Red Sox a young, versatile player who has options remaining and could push for a spot on the Boston roster, especially if rosters are expanded to more than 26 players once the season begins. Munoz could theoretically factor into the mix at second base and also see time in the outfield.

Munoz was originally signed by the Athletics as an international free agent in 2012 and traded to the Cardinals in a deal for outfielder Stephen Piscotty after the 2017 season. He made his major league debut for the Cardinals in 2018 and appeared in 108 games that year.


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