12/3/2013 12:21 P.M. ET
Cards in position of strength entering Winter Meetings
Club has addressed shortstop and center field needs, boasts plenty of pitching depth
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals' season extended a month longer than most, the club has since been as quick as any to address the deficiencies identified in advance of 2014.
Atop that list of needs was a shortstop. Jhonny Peralta has since filled that hole. The desire to upgrade defensively in center field and add more speed to the lineup was accomplished with the trade acquisition of Peter Bourjos. The fact that both Bourjos and Peralta hit from the right side also helps balance what was setting up to be a left-handed-heavy lineup.
The early flurry of activity leaves the Cardinals positioned for a potentially quiet week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., next week when all 30 clubs descend upon Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort for baseball's annual Winter Meetings.
It's a gathering that guarantees Hot Stove activity, largely due to convenience. Club officials, agents, team personnel and even some players make appearances during the four-day December gathering, which is full of face-to-face meetings between these different parties. For the Cardinals, however, they'll arrive hardly desperate to do a thing.
"Right now, we've accomplished what we set out, what we wanted, to do," general manager John Mozeliak said last week during a news conference to announce the Peralta signing. "Over the next week and a half, we'll reassess where we are with my group, then meet with the coaching staff and see what the next step is."
While it seems unlikely that the Cardinals will make another big move this winter, they are likely to continue to receive inquiries about the availability of their young pitching. The Cardinals' ability to make additions without subtracting from that area of organizational strength leaves them saturated with pitching. While they intend to retain all these arms, an overwhelming offer by another club could change those plans.
The Cardinals will continue to seek upgrades to a bench that projects to include Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, Jon Jay, Tony Cruz, Shane Robinson, and, depending upon how things shake out in the outfield, potentially Matt Adams or Oscar Taveras. Mozeliak has also indicated an interest in adding another infielder to create some spring competition with Kolten Wong for the starting second base job.
With free-agent departures clearing about $44 million from the books and the swap with the Angels taking off a few million more, the Cardinals retain substantial financial flexibility should they want to make additional offseason moves.
The financial flexibility and the ability to be early players in the Hot Stove season leave the Cardinals in a position of strength as they prepare for the Winter Meetings. They can listen without feeling pressed to act. They can focus on complementary adds instead of imperative ones.
With several openings on their 40-man roster, the Cardinals should be in position to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft next week, if they choose to. The Rule 5 Draft will take place the morning of Dec. 12 in a wrapup event of sorts at the Winter Meetings. The Cardinals have the 30th selection in the Draft.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.