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Free-Agent Market May Force Trade for SS

As the St. Louis Cardinals enter the offseason, general manager John Mozeliak made it clear that finding more offense at shortstop would be a clear objective.

“I think when you look at sort of just pure performance of what has occurred, it seems like it would be an area where if we could provide more offense in the lineup from there it would make sense,” said Mozeliak on Monday.

“I was always reluctant to say that was a huge need because we were scoring runs — you look at our run scoring differential, it was big. So therefore, I felt like we were getting by as long as we were in a position to catch the ball. But, recognizing that, I still think if we can find the right type of combination in a player where you still get defense and you can upgrade at the offensive standpoint, that would make sense.”

And while Mozeliak stated he would prefer not to trade away players, he may be forced to do so as the free agent crop for shortstops is limited in terms of offensive upgrades over Pete Kozma.

Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta are the two most significant names, but Drew has received a qualifying offer from Boston and with the success the Cardinals have had in the draft, one has to wonder if they would be willing to part with a first-round pick (and pool money) to sign Drew.

Peralta posted a career-best .303 average last season, but served a 50-game suspension for PED use. It is not clear what kind of effect that will have not only with the Cardinals, but any team in free agency. He has hit more than 10 home runs in a season nine times — four times more than 20.

Notable Free-Agent Shortstops:

Clint Barmes…batted .211 for Pittsburgh in 2013, the lowest of his 13 ML seasons.

Reid Brignac…minor league free agent, has played in 302 ML games with a .221 batting average. Hit .250 in 29 games for Colorado before being traded to the Yankees where he hit only .114 in 17 games.

Ronny Cedeno…was beat out by Kozma in spring training for the Cardinals SS job in spring training last year.

Stephen Drew…career .264 hitter/.329 OBP.

Yunel Escobar…club option was exercised by Tampa.

Derek Jeter…has already agreed to a 1-year deal from the Yankees.

Jhonny Peralta…31-year old has a career batting average of .268/.330 obp.

Brendan Ryan…since batting .292 for the Cardinals in ’09, the frenetic glove man has seen his offense plummet to sub-.200 levels the last two years. As a result, he lost his starting job in Seattle and was traded to the Yankees.

Josh Wilson…minor league free agent who batted .200 in 30 games for Arizona this past year. In
nearly 400 ABs in the big leagues, a .225 hitter.

FURCAL DRAWING INTEREST

–According to Jorge Castillo of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, free agent Rafael Furcal has been reached out to by the New York Mets with Mike Puma of the New York Post adding that another five teams could have interest in the former Cards shortstop.

CARDS MAKE ROSTER MOVES

— On Tuesday, the team out-righted OF Adron Chambers, 1B/OF Brock Peterson and C Rob Johnson off the 40-man roster. All three players are now free agents.

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