The Cardinals added Braden Looper to their bullpen on Thursday, signing him to a three-year deal, which is worth a reported $13.5 million. He’s been successful as a closer for the Mets and Marlins over the last three seasons, saving 85 games in that span, but he won’t be used in that capacity in St. Louis. With Jason Isringhausen firmly planted as the Cardinals closer, Looper will work as his set-up man.
The Cardinals selected Looper with the third pick of the 1996 draft out of Wichita St. He appeared in four games with St. Louis in 1998, but was sent to Florida during the off-season in a deal that brought Edgar Renteria to the Cardinals.
The Kansas City Royals are apparently very interested in signing second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, though they don’t want any long-term commitment with him. Grudzielanek is looking for a two-year deal, which the Royals don’t want to give him. They would prefer to go with a one-year deal with an option for a second.
Grudzielanek hit .294 with 59 RBIs last season.
The Royals are also expected to announce the signing of back up catcher Paul Bako Thursday. He had a knee injury in 2005 and played just 13 games with the Dodgers.