When the St. Louis Cardinals came into this offseason, there was little doubt that it would be a busy winter for the team that was two wins away from its 12th World Championship.
While there was only one obvious glaring need, there were also areas where improvements would be welcomed.
The fact that general manager John Mozeliak addressed the two most obvious needs in less than 30 days after the conclusion of the World Series was not expected. Not only did he address those needs, he did it in classic Mozeliak style.
The loss of David Freese in the trade, while disappointing at the local level, is likely a win-win for both he and the Cardinals. A change of scenery could be a huge benefit to Freese, and considering his struggles in 2013, they received a solid rate of return.
In addition, they made the move without having to surrender any of their coveted young pitchers.
After the Freese/Bourjos deal was final, it was logical to conclude that there would be some time to pass before the Cardinals made a move for a shortstop.
In the end, Peralta hadn’t even been mentioned in rumors connected with the Cardinals, and by Sunday morning, he had a four-year deal worth $52 million, via ESPN.
Once again, Mozeliak worked this deal in the smartest way possible. By picking up a free agent, he was able to address a key 2013 weakness without losing any of the Cardinals much-coveted pitching depth.
The fact that Peralta will not cost them a first-round draft pick in 2014 is just a bonus.
In the end, it was assumed that Mozeliak would have to overpay for whatever talent he went after. When every team in baseball knows what the Cardinals have an abundance of, it’s what everyone wants as currency.
He managed to work around that and make very substantial improvements at key positions while losing only Freese and reliever Fernando Salas.
Deals like that are what have made Mozeliak one of the more effective general managers in all of baseball. He understands that sometimes the most attractive piece isn’t always the best fit from a business standpoint.
He’s able to see past the flash and the excitement of a potential deal (Troy Tulowitzki, for example, via Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com) and see it from a viewpoint that determines what would be the best course of action for the team now and in the years to come.
Because of the success he’s had during his tenure, I would argue Mozeliak is possibly the best GM—not of the year—but of the decade.