Cardinals send backup C Tony Cruz to Royals for minor league IF

Tony Cruz brings the Royals veteran experience to back up Salvador Perez.

Jeff Roberson/AP

ST. LOUIS — After signing catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year, free-agent contract to back up All-Star Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals dealt their backup of the last four years, Tony Cruz, to the Kansas City Royals for minor league infielder Jose Martinez. 

Cruz gives the Royals an experienced backup behind All-Star Salvador Perez. Still in the picture, for the moment, is Drew Butera, Perez’s backup in 2015. Butera is eligible for salary arbitration, and the Royals must decide by today whether they will offer him a contract.

To make room for Cruz on the 40-man roster, the Royals have designated catcher Francisco Pena for assignment.

Cruz, 29, hit .204 with seven doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in 69 games last season. In 2015 he caught 51 games and appeared in three games at third base, seeing most of his action when Molina was injured. The right-handed batter has a career .220 average with 32 doubles, three triples, five homers and 58 RBIs in 259 big-league games. He also has thrown out 27 percent (25 for 92) of would-be basestealers.

Martinez, 19, spent a majority of the year at Burlington (Rookie), hitting .243 with four doubles, a homer and 24 RBIs in 57 games.