The Major League Baseball winter meetings, held each year in December, are often the wildest ride of the hot-stove season—both for the league and the St. Louis Cardinals.
This year, however, the majority of the Cardinals' major offseason news took place well before the Winter Meetings.
The Cardinals addressed their most pressing needs in short order after the season’s conclusion.
While arguably the top item on their shopping list was a shortstop, managing to move David Freese and Fernando Salas for a center fielder in Peter Bourjos and a solid prospect in Randal Grichuk is equally impressive.
With that said, there are other minor needs to be addressed—a right-handed bench bat, for example. They weren’t addressed during the winter meetings, but for those items there’s no need to rush.
While the Cardinals weren’t active in Orlando during the meetings in terms of transactions, they still came out on top.
Rule 5 draft
The Cardinals escaped the Rule 5 Draft without any notable losses—which is always a positive development.
The Cardinals followed up by snagging a shortstop named Gregory Miclat in return from the Texas Rangers' minor league system. Miclat is a 26-year-old RH shortstop who has played six years of minor league baseball, compiling a .259 batting average.
While it’s not a spectacular pick, the Cardinals kept their losses in the draft to a minimum by protecting key players on their roster.
Since before he returned to baseball to manage the Cardinals, catcher collisions at home plate have been an issue Mike Matheny takes to heart.
Why? They played a major role in ending his own career due to concussion symptoms that never seemed to go away for him.
This year, Matheny won a major victory for his cause when the MLB Rules Committee decided to do away with collisions by governing the catcher and the runner, according to a USA Today story by Jorge Ortiz.
The specifics are not yet known, but given that the Cardinals are in possession of one of the game’s best offensive and defensive catchers, there’s no doubt they are pleased with the decision.
Hanging on to pitching
Another positive move (or lack thereof) for the Cardinals is that they have cleared another major postseason hurdle without losing any of their coveted young pitching.
The fact that the Cardinals picked up a shortstop, a center fielder and a prospect without having to let go of any of their youth is a solid enough reason to feel good about the winter meetings.
The remaining moves general manager John Mozeliak is likely looking into should be minor enough to not cost pitchers Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn.
As the Cardinals are learning this year, sometimes the most valuable move is the move that wasn’t made.