St. Louis addressed its glaring needs early this winter by trading third baseman David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for outfielder Peter Bourjos. They also signed free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million deal, the largest contract ever dealt by the Cardinals to a player who had never been a member of the team, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
For general manager John Mozeliak, it's now time to address his club's secondary needs. Mozeliak will continue to gauge the market for additional depth as the winter meetings continue and we near the new calendar year.
The Cardinals could use a starting pitcher after they declined to offer Jake Westbrook his 2014 option. Moreover, left-hander Jaime Garcia is coming off of shoulder surgery, and his effectiveness remains in question.
Goold writes that the Cardinals are bystanders in some of the trade talks involving Tampa Bay left-hander David Price.
However, the Cardinals could, if they so choose, pursue Price in an effort to boost their rotation. As previously noted, Garcia’s health is a concern; he has yet to prove he can remain injury free. Also, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha are still rather green, despite an astonishing postseason from Wacha. And Cardinals fans are well aware of Lance Lynn's struggles over the last two seasons, especially during the second half.
Price went 10-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 27 starts for the Rays last season. Moreover, he racked up four complete games. He also struck out 151 hitters. The Cardinals would have to send a prospect or two to Tampa Bay in exchange for the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Price is a possibility. Will the Cardinals pursue him? I doubt it, but they have the resources to pull off such a deal if they opt to, making Price within reach for 2014, at least.
Relief pitching is always a necessity. John Axford is well within reach of the Cardinals in terms of a new contract. The Cardinals acquired the 30-year-old right-handed reliever in exchange for Michael Blazek late last season, and the former closer did a fine job for the Cardinals.
In 13 appearances during the regular season, Axford allowed just two earned runs in 10.1 innings. In the postseason, he allowed just one earned run in six appearances.
With Axford due a salary increase, it’s not certain the Cardinals will pursue the 2011 NL saves leader. However, if Axford were to take a discount, the Cardinals should be all ears.
According to Goold, Mozeliak sent an email to the Post-Dispatch saying Axford "did a very nice job" during his short stint with the Cardinals last season.
The Cardinals could also benefit from additional outfield depth. Delmon Young is certainly capable of just that.
Spending time with both Philadelphia and Tampa Bay last season, Young launched 11 home runs and drove in 38 en route to a steady .260 batting average.
He’s a career .282 hitter, who is still in his prime (28 years old), and would be a healthy addition to an outfield that will feature Matt Holliday, John Jay, Peter Bourjos, Allen Craig and possibly Oscar Taveras.
It’s uncertain whether Mozeliak will gauge the market for any of these three players, especially Price. But the latter pair are certainly within reach for 2014.