St. Louis Cardinals Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

St. Louis Cardinals Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News

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    The St. Louis Cardinals gave it their all this year, and they have a roster that is loaded for years to come. There are a couple of areas that need addressed this offseason, so let's check out what this team needs to do this winter.

    No team has been able to replace players like the Cardinals. Albert Pujols left, and Allen Craig has replaced his production in the middle of the lineup. Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams have been great swinging the bat.

    When the pitching staff got banged up, youngsters stepped in without missing a beat. Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook missed time this year with injuries, and Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha all exceeded expectations. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal turned into a dominant closer this year.

    This roster is filled with young studs and has a few key veterans, so this offseason will be about filling a hole or two.

    Let's check out what areas the team could improve this winter:

    • Shortstop
    • Bench depth
    • Bullpen

    If there's going to be a big signing by the club, it's going to be at shortstop.

    Losing in the World Series is tough, but it shows that the team is on the verge of a championship if it can add a piece or two.

    Stay tuned throughout the offseason as this will be updated multiple times per day.

St. Louis' Own Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Done Deals

    Nov. 22: Acquired CF Peter Bourjos and OF Randal Grichuk from the Los Angeles Angels for 3B David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas, according to the Angels' official Twitter account. First reported by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Nov. 24: Shortstop Jhonny Peralta signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

    Dec. 15: Signed 2B Mark Ellis to a one-year deal worth $5.25 million plus incentives, pending a physical, via the St. Louis Post Dispatch's Derrick Goold.

     

    Contract Options

    RHP Jake Westbrook (Age 36)

    Contract: $9.5 million mutual option with $1 million buyout-DECLINED

     

    Free Agents

    RF Carlos Beltran (Dec. 6: Outfielder Carlos Beltran has reached an agreement on a three-year deal, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, worth $45 milllion, according to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.

     

    RHP Edward Mujica (Dec. 5: Signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports

     

    RHP Chris Carpenter (Age 38)

    Nov. 20: Retired

     

    SS Rafael Furcal (Dec. 5: Agreed to a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal)

     

     

Arbitration Eligible Players

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Tendered

    CF Peter Bourjos

    INF Daniel Descalso

    CF Jon Jay

     

    Non-Tendered

    RHP John Axford (Dec. 15: Signed with the Cleveland Indians)

     

    *via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dec. 15: 2B Mark Ellis Signs with the St. Louis Cardinals

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    The Cardinals have reached an agreement with Ellis on a one-year deal, pending a physical, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch's Derrick Goold. The deal will be worth $5.25 million plus incentives, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    St. Louis has made some big moves in order to fill holes. Now they have likely completed their roster by signing a middle infielder.

    The 36-year-old hit .270/.323/.350 with six home runs, 13 doubles and two triples. Those offensive numbers are solid, but his defense is even better. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove this year.

    He is a good player in the clubhouse, which makes this signing look even better.

    Ellis provides depth to the team and could start if the team doesn't want to make Kolten Wong the starter. If Wong is named the starter but struggles, it would be a smooth process to put Ellis in to take over. 

    It is just another great move made by this organization. The Cardinals find a way to add the right pieces, and Ellis could be a player who could be an impact signing.

Dec. 6: Carlos Beltran Signs a Three-Year Deal with the New York Yankees

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    After a great year, including a terrific postseason, outfielder Carlos Beltran has reached an agreement on a three-year deal with the New York Yankees, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

    Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs, 30 doubles and 84 RBI this season. In the postseason, he hit .268/.388/.464 with two home runs, three doubles and a triple with 15 RBI. He continued to show just how valuable he can be in October.

    Despite those great numbers, the Cardinals had other options.

    Allen Craig could move to right field permanently, which would allow Matt Adams to take over at first base. Matt Holliday is in left field, and prospect Oscar Taveras will also be pushing for an outfield spot.

    With a ton of talent battling for playing time in the outfield, the Cardinals decided not to get in a bidding war to bring the veteran back.

    Beltran was the Yankees' No. 1 target, and he was their top choice. However, it didn't look as if the Yankees would give him a third year. After Robinson Cano bolted for Seattle, the Yankees had money to spend and targeted Beltran.

    It looks like a good fit for both sides as Beltran can be a designated hitter on occasion.

Dec. 5: RHP Edward Mujica Signed a Two-Year Deal with the Boston Red Sox

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    With Trevor Rosenthal taking over as closer, the Cardinals let Edward Mujica leave in free agency. Mujica signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

    He went 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 91 innings over parts of two seasons in St. Louis. He had 37 saves this season, so clubs will be interested in his ability to pitch at the end of games.

    A groin injury in the middle of September could be tied to his late-season struggles. 

    The 29-year-old's 1.005 WHIP was the second-lowest of his career. He has gone away from going for strikeouts. Mujica began to hit his stride when he went to his split-finger more.

    He has pitched for four teams in his eight-year career.

Nov. 24: Jhonny Peralta Signed with the St. Louis Cardinals

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The St. Louis Cardinals could be close to bringing in a shortstop, and it won't even cost them any of their talented pitchers.

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that the Cardinals have a four-year deal worth $53 million with shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Heyman also reported that Peralta lowered his demands when it came to the Cardinals because he wanted to play in St. Louis. He was reportedly looking for a five-year, $75 million from other teams.

    St. Louis had been linked to many shortstops this offseason as it looked to upgrade from Pete Kozma. After a blockbuster deal involving the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers, the Cardinals had to look elsewhere for a shortstop as it was unlikely that the Rangers would deal away one of their young players.

    This is the second big move in a span of a couple of days by the club. On Nov. 22, it acquired center fielder Peter Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels for third baseman David Freese.

    This could be a move that puts the team over the top. Peralta hit .303/.358/.457 with 11 home runs and 30 doubles this past season. Kozma hit .217/.275/.273 with only one home runs and 20 doubles in 2013.

    However, there is some controversy surrounding Peralta. He was suspended 50 games this season in the Biogenesis scandal. Peralta did make it back for the postseason and hit .333 with one home run and four doubles in 10 games.

    Peralta is a career .268 hitter and has 156 home runs and 295 doubles in his 11 years in the majors. However, consistency has been tough to come by. In the last four seasons, he has alternated hitting below .250 and above .299.

    The 31-year-old has made the American League All-Star team in two of the past three seasons. He can play either shortstop or third base, but the Cardinals will be using him primarily at shortstop.

    He has played for only two teams, the Tigers and the Cleveland Indians, in his 11-year career. 

     

     

     

Nov. 22: Acquired CF Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk from the LA Angels

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    Age: 26

    Bats: R

    2013 Stats: .274/.333/.377, 3 HR, 3 2B, 3 3B, 6 SB

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible, under team control through 2016 

     

    Nov. 22: As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported, the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired center fielder Peter Bourjos for third baseman David Freese.

    The 26-year-old is a career .251/.306/.398 hitter and has 41 stolen bases over parts of four seasons.

    He missed most of the season after straining his hamstring in April and suffering a season-ending wrist injury in June. He also missed time in 2012 with a wrist injury and dealt with a hip injury.

    There is plenty of potential in the center fielder. However, he is somewhat unproven. He has played in more than 101 games only once in his four-year career.

    Bourjos certainly adds speed to the Cardinals' lineup, and he will likely receive the majority of the playing time in center. He is an elite defensive player, which makes this an even better deal for the Cardinals.

    Center field was a position that the club wanted to improve on the offensive side. Bourjos' speed will be a big addition to the top of the lineup, and the power hitters behind him will feast on their opportunities with him on base.

    Bourjos is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter.

    Don't forget, the Cardinals also got a top outfield prospect, Randal Grichuk. It looks like they set themselves up very well with this deal.

Nov. 22: Traded 3B David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Nov. 22: FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Los Angeles Angels have traded CF Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman David Freese, with a couple of other players involved.

    Freese had a disappointing season at the plate in 2013. After hitting at least .293 in each of his first three seasons, the 30-year-old dropped to .262 this past season. His home runs dropped from 20 to nine, and his RBI total dropped by 19 down to 60.

    The third baseman hit only .179 with only one home run, two doubles and four RBI in 17 playoff games this year.

    Freese made the NL All-Star team in 2012. He won the 2011 NLCS Most Valuable Player award and the 2011 World Series MVP. He has his place in Cardinals history, but a disappointing season had the Cardinals looking to see what they could get for him.

    USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted that this trade will allow Matt Carpenter to move over to third base, which is his natural position, and Kolten Wong will likely take over at second base.

    Right-handed reliever Fernando Salas should help the Angels bullpen. The 28-year-old posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 28 innings this past season. He began to mix up his three pitches as he grew as a reliever. He had a good fastball with a changeup and curveball as complementary pitches.

     

Chris Carpenter: Retired

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    Chris Carpenter has filed for free agency, according to Derrick Goold, but don't expect him to be pitching anywhere next season. The Boston Globe reported that Carpenter's agent said the right-hander is set to retire.

    *Update: Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 3:25 p.m. ET

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold reported that Chris Carpenter has told the Cardinals that he will officially retire.

    ---End of update---

    The 38-year-old went 95-44 with a 3.07 ERA in nine seasons with St. Louis. He helped the Cardinals win two World Series, and he also helped the team get to another World Series in 2004.

    He went 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 postseason games. Carpenter was always willing to take the ball in big games, which helped the Cardinals advance deep into many Octobers.

    Carpenter won the 2005 NL Cy Young award and made three National League All-Star teams. 

    Issues with the nerves in his shoulder caused him to miss this season, and if this is it for him, Cardinals fans will thankful for all that he did for the team. He missed most nearly four full seasons with injuries since 2007, but he was a dominant pitcher when he was able to take the ball.

     

Big Changes to Lineup Ahead?

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    *Update: Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2:48 p.m. ET

    GM John Mozeliak told ESPN's Jim Bowden that he would like to trade a young starting pitcher for a "young controllable shortstop."

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 1:15 p.m. ET

    With Pete Kozma's struggles, the team could look at upgrading at shortstop. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew as possible options in free agency.

    However, the team may look at trading pitchers for help at shortstop.

    *Update: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12:45 EDT

    Despite making it to the World Series this past season, there could be big changes ahead, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    With Carlos Beltran hitting the market, it creates a lot of uncertainty in the field. If he signs elsewhere, Allen Craig is likely to shift to right field and Matt Adams will take over at first.

    Rafael Furcal is also a free agent, and Pete Kozma has struggled at the plate—and in the field in the postseason—the last two seasons. Who plays shortstop in St. Louis next season?

    Third baseman David Freese struggled hitting the ball last season, so there are questions at that position as he is eligible for arbitration.

    Center fielder Jon Jay had a tough time hitting southpaws in 2013. It caused the Cardinals to create a platoon in October.

    Strauss suggests that the team could shop starting pitchers Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller in order to fill some holes in the lineup.

Jake Westbrook: Option Declined, Free Agent

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    *Update: Thursday, Oct. 31, at 4:50 p.m. ET

    Jake Westbrook's option has been declined, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    The veteran dealt with elbow and back injuries this season, which gave young pitchers a chance to prove themselves. 

    It was tough luck for Westbrook because he had gotten off to a great start to the season. Through his first five starts of the year, he had a 1.07 ERA.

    He did not allow an earned run at home until July, and he didn't allow more than three earned runs in a start at home until August. Busch Stadium was kind to the right-hander, but he had his struggles on the road.

    Westbroook went 2-7 with a 5.61 ERA away from St. Louis. With his road struggles, his injuries and how the young pitchers performed, the Cardinals chose to decline his option.

    The 36-year-old pitched in parts of four seasons with St. Louis, but his time with the club has come to an end.