LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida — Stephen Piscotty was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland Athletics for two infield prospects on Thursday, allowing the outfielder to be near his family’s home in Pleasanton following his mother’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Gretchen Piscotty was diagnosed in May with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that attacks nerve cells. Her son left the Cardinals for five days after the diagnosis and returned May 31.
“You are never making a player trade simply for geographic or sentimental reasons,” John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, told St. Louis media. “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.”
St. Louis receives Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock in the deal.
Piscotty, 26, hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season, spending stretches on the disabled list because of a strained hamstring and groin. He was selected by St. Louis from Stanford with the 36th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft and made his big league debut in July 2015.
Piscotty hit 22 home runs with 85 RBIs in 2016, and has batted .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2½ major league seasons.
Piscotty agreed in May to a $33.5 million, six-year contract.
Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.
Momentum for a Piscotty deal built throughout the week, then picked up steam early Wednesday when the Cardinals reportedly acquired All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins, according to multiple reports.
Getting Ozuna, one of the prizes of the offseason, made Piscotty expendable in St. Louis, and the A’s pounced.
A former Amador Valley High star, Piscotty brings a versatility that appealed to the A’s. He has 260 career games in right field, 55 in left, 11 in center and 12 at first base.
Gretchen Piscotty’s diagnosis became public in early June, after Stephen missed nearly a week of Cardinals games. He’d returned to Pleasanton to be with his family — to “regroup” and “support each other.”
“We actually watched all the games,” Stephen Piscotty told the St. Louis-Dispatch at the time. “She thought it’d be a fun, weird idea to have me there watching. So we did that. The whole family was able to come back and spend some time and kind of gather ourselves. My mom is very strong. So we’re going to be behind her.”
The A’s are happy to welcome him aboard. Their offseason to-do list included adding a right-handed bat to an outfield stable that also includes lefties Matt Joyce, Boog Powell and Dustin Fowler.
Piscotty signed a six-year, $33.5 million extension in 2017 that includes a club option for 2023. He’s scheduled to make $1 million in 2018, $7 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020, $7.25 million in 2021 and $7.25 million in 2022. The club option for 2023 is for $15 million, with a $1 million buyout.