Baseball is a business, but it’s not always cold and unfeeling. On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics. After the Cards traded for Marcell Ozuna, Piscotty was the odd man out. But the trade was about more than just clearing roster space. It was also about sending Piscotty back home to be near his mother.
Piscotty’s mother still lives in the family’s hometown of Pleasanton, California, which is about 25 miles from Oakland. At the end of May, she was diagnosed with ALS, which is a degenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At the time, Piscotty told manager Mike Matheny about the diagnosis, and the team gave him time off to fly to California to be with his mother and brothers. Piscotty returned to the lineup after about a week away.
Fast forward to Wednesday, with Piscotty on the trading block. When news broke of the trade, it seemed like one of life’s great accidents that Piscotty got traded to one of the teams that play close to his hometown. But it wasn’t an accident or a coincidence. The Cardinals wanted to make this happen for him if they could. Here’s what John Mozeliak, the Cards’ president of baseball operations, told Derek Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“You are never making a player trade simply for geographic or sentimental reasons,” said John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations. “It had to be something that made sense for us. There were certainly some opportunities to move him elsewhere. When you are looking at how to break a tie, clearly that did play into it.”
It seems rare that baseball executives Mozeliak take a player’s personal matters into account when looking to make a trade. But this was obviously an exception. Though of course, the trade wasn’t happening just because Piscotty wants to be closer to his mother. There were legitimate baseball reasons to make this trade, but Mozeliak’s knowledge of Piscotty’s family helped him make a decision that was good for both the club and the player.
The entire Cardinals organization was on board with helping Piscotty. When his mother was first diagnosed, the Cards didn’t just grant hm time off, they offered access to any doctors in the St. Louis area who could help, and also offered connections to any MLB-related doctor. That’s a pretty extensive network. And on Wednesday, Piscotty’s former manager Mike Matheny talked about how he felt, and how he wished he could help.
From the great @dgoold, comments from Mike Matheny that make it clear Cards would like to help Piscotty get back to the Bay Area. Piscotty’s mom was diagnosed with ALS this year: pic.twitter.com/hi6Q5XWz9B
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 13, 2017
The Cardinals did support him. And that’s why Piscotty is on his way home.
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