Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the St. Louis Cardinals

news

Cardinals News

After missing Stanton, Cards refocus on needs

Team could still be considering adding an 'elite-type bat'
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton now ended, the Cardinals arrived at the Winter Meetings prepared to pivot their attention toward other roster upgrades. What direction that will take them, however, is yet to be determined.

While speaking to a group of St. Louis reporters for more than 30 minutes on Monday, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak suggested that part of regrouping from their miss on Stanton was also to re-evaluate the different paths the organization could take toward improvement.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton now ended, the Cardinals arrived at the Winter Meetings prepared to pivot their attention toward other roster upgrades. What direction that will take them, however, is yet to be determined.

While speaking to a group of St. Louis reporters for more than 30 minutes on Monday, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak suggested that part of regrouping from their miss on Stanton was also to re-evaluate the different paths the organization could take toward improvement.

And those revised plans may be different than those stated two months ago, when the Cardinals listed an impact bat as their primary offseason need.

"I think now it's going to be a balancing act of do we chase more pitching or do we chase trying to find some upgrade offensively to our club?" Mozeliak said. "I think we're open to both. I think right now everything we're exploring would be something that we, again, feel is an upgrade from where we are. And in the end, if you have enough of those in an aggregate setting, we should be better."

Mozeliak went on to acknowledge that the Cardinals lack the "elite-type bat" that Stanton would have been, but he also cautioned that finding one in this market may not be a guarantee.

Hot Stove Tracker

"When we started this rhetoric of finding that impactful bat, it was centered a lot around potentially Stanton," Mozeliak said. "That's not to say there's not some other way we might be able to navigate it, but certainly we've lost a little wind in our sail on that particular point. You cannot force something like this. So if it's not there, it's not there."

Nevertheless, the Cardinals continue to persist in their efforts to improve. Mozeliak engaged in what he described as "a fairly active" first day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings. He spent almost all of it in the Cardinals' suite and hosted executives from multiple teams in an attempt to further trade discussions.

The trade market continues to dominate the Cardinals' activity, and there are a few factors behind that. The Cardinals see players possibly available via trade -- and their contracts -- as more desirable. They also acknowledge their own roster logjam. The Cardinals believe they can turn that depth not only into trade value, but also into clarity for their own club.

"Part of our problem is that when you add, at some level, you need to subtract," Mozeliak said. "The depth that we have collected over the last few years is going to create a problem at some point. There are only so many innings that you can get in the outfield, whether it's at the big leagues, Triple-A or Double-A."

Video: Cards, Gregorson reportedly close to two-year pact

Yet, so far the Cardinals' lone offseason adds have come from the free-agent market. They signed starter Miles Mikolas to a two-year contract last week and agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson on a two-year deal that includes a vesting option. Gregerson still has to pass a physical -- which is scheduled for Tuesday -- before the club officially announces the signing.

How Gregerson fits into the Cardinals' bullpen will be connected to what other (if any) moves are made. As of now, the veteran reliever is considered a candidate to close.

Video: Gregerson looks forward to joining Cardinals

"We are still looking at other [bullpen] options, but certainly I think whether it's eighth or ninth [innings], he gives us some flexibility," Mozeliak said. "I think in our case, when you look back at last year, our inability to close out games was something that was frustrating, so having someone who has done it before is certainly a value add."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Ultimate Cards Fan Pack up for charity auction

Bidding runs until 9 p.m. CT Thursday
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cardinals are auctioning off a complete set of 2017 promotional items and a collection of team-issued hats as part of this year's Winter Meetings charity auction, which runs until 9 p.m. CT on Thursday.

Those items are among dozens of experiences, packages and unique items donated by Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs in this sixth annual charity auction. All monies raised will support the Katharine Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is being established to support an annual scholarship for a female student pursuing a career in sports management at the University of San Francisco.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cardinals are auctioning off a complete set of 2017 promotional items and a collection of team-issued hats as part of this year's Winter Meetings charity auction, which runs until 9 p.m. CT on Thursday.

Those items are among dozens of experiences, packages and unique items donated by Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs in this sixth annual charity auction. All monies raised will support the Katharine Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is being established to support an annual scholarship for a female student pursuing a career in sports management at the University of San Francisco.

Feeney, who joined the office of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs in 1977, served as a baseball executive for 40 years. She died unexpectedly in April, just months after retiring.

The Cardinals' contributions to the auction include the "Ultimate Cardinals Fan Pack." The bidding opens at $500, and the winner will receive a Dooney & Bourke Weekender Bag stuffed with all of the promotional items the Cardinals gave away last season. A select number of theme night promotional items will be included as well.

Fans can also bid to win a complete collection of 2018 Cardinals hats. The winner will receive every different style hat worn by the team next season, including those used on holidays and other special dates. This package will also include a home red Cardinals cap autographed by a player of the winner's choosing. The bidding starts at $250.

To view a full list of available auction items, visit MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction. The MLB Charity Auction program is in its sixth year, and since its inception, more than $900,000 has been raised through this initiative.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Source: Cards, Gregerson agree to 2-year deal

Club expected to make more moves to replenish bullpen
MLB.com @LangoschMLB and @MannyOnMLB

ST. LOUIS -- In what is expected to be the first of multiple moves made to improve their bullpen, the Cardinals have a reached a two-year, $11 million agreement with free-agent reliever Luke Gregerson, MLB.com has confirmed.

The deal, which was first reported by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, includes a vesting option and is pending a physical. The club has not confirmed.

ST. LOUIS -- In what is expected to be the first of multiple moves made to improve their bullpen, the Cardinals have a reached a two-year, $11 million agreement with free-agent reliever Luke Gregerson, MLB.com has confirmed.

The deal, which was first reported by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, includes a vesting option and is pending a physical. The club has not confirmed.

After a quiet November, the Cardinals have now made a pair of free-agent signings in the days leading up to the Winter Meetings, which officially open in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Monday. Five days after signing starter Miles Mikolas to a two-year contract, the Cardinals reunited with a player they selected back in the 28th round of the 2006 MLB Draft.

Gregerson, however, never made it to the Majors with St. Louis. Instead, that debut came with the Padres, who acquired the right-hander as the player-to-be-named to complete a trade that brought Khalil Greene to the Cardinals.

Hot Stove Tracker

Gregerson spent five years with the Padres before pitching for the A's and Astros. He became a free agent after the 2017 season, which was the final year under the $18.5 million contract Gregerson signed with the Astros in December 2014.

Video: Gregerson to join St. Louis' bullpen in 2018

Gregerson, 33, labored with Houston this past season, posting a 4.57 ERA and surrendering 13 home runs in 61 innings pitched. But the right-hander has a career 3.02 ERA and a 9.1 K/9 rate over nine MLB seasons. Gregerson saved 31 games for the Astros in 2015 and has averaged 69 appearances per season over his Major League career.

How the Cardinals plan to utilize Gregerson will be addressed by the club once the deal is finalized. The Cardinals are in the market for a closer, but Gregerson's 2017 struggles and limited closing experience suggest that he may not be an automatic pick to fill that vacancy.

General manager Michael Girsch stated previously that the Cardinals hope to add multiple relievers with big league experience before the 2018 season. The need to replenish the 'pen comes after the Cardinals lost four relievers -- Seung Hwan Oh, Zach Duke, Juan Nicasio and Trevor Rosenthal -- to free agency.

Video: Luke Gregerson's fantasy value in 2018

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Gregerson does not immediately jump out as a prime ninth-inning option due to his 2017 performance (4.57 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), but he owns an impressive lifetime 3.02 ERA and logged a closer-esque 10.4 K/9 rate across the past two seasons. With more career saves (66) than any member of the current Cardinals bullpen, the righty should remain on mixed-league draft lists unless St. Louis makes further bullpen moves this winter.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to her podcast.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Luke Gregerson

Stanton praises St. Louis' 'winning-first culture'

Slugger explains reason for agreeing to trade to Yankees
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After monopolizing Hot Stove headlines for weeks, Giancarlo Stanton commanded one last wave of winter attention on Monday as he slipped on a pinstripe jersey while being officially introduced as a Yankee on the first day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

The image created one final sting for the Cardinals, who, until three days ago, were holding out hope that a similar scene would play out under the shadow of the Gateway Arch. But Monday's press conference offered some answers and insight, particularly as it applied to Stanton's decision to decline trades that would have sent him to the Cardinals or Giants.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After monopolizing Hot Stove headlines for weeks, Giancarlo Stanton commanded one last wave of winter attention on Monday as he slipped on a pinstripe jersey while being officially introduced as a Yankee on the first day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

The image created one final sting for the Cardinals, who, until three days ago, were holding out hope that a similar scene would play out under the shadow of the Gateway Arch. But Monday's press conference offered some answers and insight, particularly as it applied to Stanton's decision to decline trades that would have sent him to the Cardinals or Giants.

Most notably, Stanton revealed that the Marlins engaged both teams in trade talks despite knowing all along that they were not one of his preferred destinations.

Stanton confirmed that he met with Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter early in the offseason to discuss his future with the organization. He first tried to persuade Jeter to add pieces to Miami's big league team. Once it was clear that new Marlins ownership had different plans, Stanton provided Miami with a list of clubs for which he would waive his no-trade clause. Neither the Cardinals nor Giants were on it.

The Marlins spoke extensively to both organizations anyway, and they went deep enough into the process that they had the framework for trades in place with both clubs. At that point, Stanton agreed to meet with members from both clubs.

"I really just wanted to learn what another organization is like," Stanton said. "All I've experienced is the Marlins and basically one way of going about things. So I wanted to see how other organizations went about their business and how the city and everything would appeal to me if that were a way I wanted to go."

Video: Morosi discusses Cardinals moving on from Stanton

Stanton's meeting with the Cardinals was held on Dec. 1, with Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Michael Girsch in attendance. Though the Cardinals arrived in Los Angeles knowing that Stanton was still not ready to waive his no-trade clause, they welcomed the chance to try sell him on the city and its proud franchise.

Hot Stove Tracker

"I don't think we had the sense that it was a non-starter," Mozeliak said on Monday. "I think we went out there with optimism. We thought what we were selling or trying to explain to him was an exciting place to play. Even leading up to it, you would hear player comments on playing in St. Louis, so it wasn't as if we were making this up. We still feel like it's a desirable place to be, and unfortunately, it wasn't a place he wanted.

"I think in hindsight we were under the impression that it was still something where he would give us real consideration. I definitely felt like after that meeting that it was sincere. But perhaps it was just not meant to be and maybe it was never meant to be."

Stanton praised St. Louis' pitch -- "It's a winning-first culture… a great organization," he said on Monday -- but that didn't change his mind. Pressed further about why the Cardinals lacked appeal, Stanton said the he felt other clubs were positioned to win sooner.

That was further validated by the fact that the four clubs Stanton told the Marlins he would consider (the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Astros) were also the last four teams playing in October.

"Historically, we've been a part of that group," Mozeliak said. "But for two years we haven't made the postseason, and perhaps that's how he views it."

A week after their face-to-face meeting, the Cardinals received final word that Stanton would not accept a trade to St. Louis. The National League's reigning Most Valuable Player Award winner declined the Giants' offer on the same day. Within 24 hours, a deal was in place to send Stanton to the Yankees.

"I was open to listening to [the Cardinals and Giants], but those were not my teams," Stanton said. "Those are great people. They were great meetings [with] great organizations and culture there. But that just wasn't the fit for me."

Though disappointed by the slugger's decision, Mozeliak said he did not regret the pursuit.

"I think you're frustrated that you didn't get it done, but I think the effort and the energy was well worth it," Mozeliak said. "I think it shows that ownership is willing, for the right player, to show that kind of commitment. In a lot of ways, I take a lot of pride that we were able to get that far. But in the end, we didn't get it done, so nobody is patting me on the back for it."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Giancarlo Stanton

Rotation depth added, Cards zero in on offense

St. Louis also set to pursue bullpen options at Winter Meetings
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton now in the rearview mirror, the Cardinals have arrived at the Winter Meetings ready to pursue various other paths toward what has always been the end offseason goal: to turn an 83-win team into a postseason participant again.

Though disappointed by Stanton's unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause and accept a move to St. Louis, the finality of that decision also offers the Cardinals clarity. The club can turn its focus elsewhere, and it can do so at an opportune time. Beginning Sunday, the Cards will have several days during which to meet face-to-face with executives and agents.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton now in the rearview mirror, the Cardinals have arrived at the Winter Meetings ready to pursue various other paths toward what has always been the end offseason goal: to turn an 83-win team into a postseason participant again.

Though disappointed by Stanton's unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause and accept a move to St. Louis, the finality of that decision also offers the Cardinals clarity. The club can turn its focus elsewhere, and it can do so at an opportune time. Beginning Sunday, the Cards will have several days during which to meet face-to-face with executives and agents.

Their schedule is expected to be full.

"We will," as chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. noted on Friday, "continue to make every effort to improve our club for the upcoming season."

Hot Stove Tracker

Having already added to their starting pitching depth by signing right-hander Miles Mikolas last week, the Cardinals have now zeroed in on upgrading the offense with the addition of an impact bat and stabilizing the bullpen, which is still without a closer.

A source confirmed to MLB.com that the Cardinals reached an agreement with veteran right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson on a two-year, $11 million deal.

The Cardinals are positioned to make bold dives into the free-agent and/or trade markets to address these needs. They flaunt substantial financial flexibility in addition to a deep pool of top prospects that could be packaged in a deal. The Cards expect plenty of outside interest in their young pitching talent, and they would still like to reduce their crowded outfield.

When news breaks or moves are made, Cardinals.com will provide exhaustive coverage and analysis of it all. Stay plugged in for other items of interest, too. At 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday, manager Mike Matheny will offer his first extensive interview since the end of the 2017 season. Look for him to address the organization's offseason blueprint, as well as potential positional changes coming for returning players.

MLB.com will also be on site to cover the results of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Modern Era Ballot on Sunday and any notable activity in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Feel free to join the conversation along the way by dropping your thoughts into the comment section below. And get ready for what most expect to be a busy and critical week for the organization.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Simmons misses on Hall election by one vote

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though he remains one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball history, Ted Simmons, whose 21-year career included time with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta, was once again unable to garner enough support to earn a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were the only individuals considered by the 16-member Modern Baseball Era committee to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. That was the required threshold for induction into the Hall of Fame next July. Simmons received 11 votes, falling just one shy of the 12 need for election.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though he remains one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball history, Ted Simmons, whose 21-year career included time with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta, was once again unable to garner enough support to earn a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were the only individuals considered by the 16-member Modern Baseball Era committee to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. That was the required threshold for induction into the Hall of Fame next July. Simmons received 11 votes, falling just one shy of the 12 need for election.

Simmons' career stats

Simply having his candidacy revisited, however, was notable for Simmons, who had previously lasted just one year on Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. He dropped off after receiving 3.7 percent support (17 votes) in 1994.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Ted Simmons throws first pitch

Such brief consideration was surprising given the numbers and accolades amassed by Simmons during his career. He finished his career with 2,472 hits -- including 483 doubles and 248 home runs -- to go with a .285 average and 1,389 RBIs. Simmons was an eight-time All-Star and landed among the league's top 10 players in batting average six times.

At the time of his retirement, Simmons led all catchers in career hits and doubles. He ranked second in RBIs (behind Yogi Berra) and second in total bases (behind Carlton Fisk). Simmons received MVP votes in seven different seasons and finished as high as sixth in the voting in 1975.

Simmons part of '80 Meetings Cards-Brewers blockbuster

It's widely believed that Simmons would have received a longer look from voters two decades ago had he not played in the same era as Hall of Fame catchers Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Fisk.

Simmons played the first 13 years of his career with St. Louis, where he was a six-time All-Star and slashed .297/.365/.454 with an .819 OPS. As a Cardinal, Simmons caught two no-hitters and finished with a .300 batting average seven different times.

Video: PHI@MIL: Simmons on the Brewers' special 1982 team

He did so again with the Brewers in 1983, which was the third of five seasons Simmons spent in Milwaukee. Simmons ended his career having caught 122 shutouts (eighth-most all-time). He hit 20 home runs six times and drove in at least 90 eight times.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals

Yadi unites athletes, celebrities for good cause

Catcher helps to raise $200,000 for Puerto Rico's hurricane victims
MLB.com

Just for a moment, Yadier Molina helped Puerto Ricans forget their troubles and seize the holiday spirit. The Cardinals catcher gathered some of Major League Baseball's biggest names on a humid Saturday in San Juan for his second annual Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Charity Game.

More than 20,000 fans packed into San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium to watch their favorite Puerto Rican celebrities and athletes support Foundation 4 -- a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by Molina and his wife, Wanda Torres.

Just for a moment, Yadier Molina helped Puerto Ricans forget their troubles and seize the holiday spirit. The Cardinals catcher gathered some of Major League Baseball's biggest names on a humid Saturday in San Juan for his second annual Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Charity Game.

More than 20,000 fans packed into San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium to watch their favorite Puerto Rican celebrities and athletes support Foundation 4 -- a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by Molina and his wife, Wanda Torres.

"I am so happy with the support given by the players of Team Rubio who donated their time to be present here [Saturday] and to unite and bring happiness once again to the people of Puerto Rico," said Molina, captain of Team Rubio and catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Alex Cora, Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Carlos Baerga, Ricky Bones, Joe Jimenez, Jose De Leon, Carlos Delgado, Jose Berrios, Jose Molina, Edwin Diaz, Roberto Perez, Alex Claudio and Hiram Burgos rallied to collect more than $200,000 to help hurricane victims on the island.

The newly retired Carlos Beltran was expected to attend, but his flight got canceled due to the season's first snowfall in New York. Still, the slugger refused to miss it, sending a video explaining his absence that played on the stadium's Jumbotron.

Despite everything, Molina honored Beltran at the event for his 20-year career and 2017 championship ring with the Astros. Beltran sent his well wishes to Molina for uniting Team Rubio once again -- the group of athletes and friends last met during the World Baseball Classic in February of this year. Beltran donated $20,000 to Foundation 4 on behalf of him and his wife, Jessica.

Molina was on a mission to claim the Home Run Derby title from Baez, who won it in 2015. But Baez wasn't giving up that easy, mashing 30 homers in the first round alone to put on a show for the fans at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Then, MLB's longest-tenured Puerto Rican player made a comeback, winning the batting title and celebrating both as a host and victor of the event.

Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quinones, and salsa singer Victor Santiango kept the party rolling by belting out the Puerto Rican and U.S. national anthems, respectively. The 402 Civil Affairs Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve presented the nation's colors on the field.

Local celebrities Raymond Arrieta, Alexandra Fuentes, Jay Fonseca, Willito Otero, Rosko Jaime, Norwill Fragoso, Joealis Filippetti, Jaime Espinal, Adriana Díaz, Mónica Pastrana, Saudi Rivera, Danilo Beauchamp, Dimary Castro, Molusco, Mimi Pabón, José "El Negro" Figueroa, Gredmarie Colon, Denise Quiñones, Miguel Morales, Stephanie Del Valle and Patricia Corcino joined Team Rubio for the Celebrity Softball Game.

Admission was free to the Yadier Molina Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Game. The gates opened at 10 a.m., and the lines began outside the stadium at 5 a.m. The event was organized by MDR Sports Management, the agency that represents Yadier Molina and is owned by agent Melvin Román. 

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina

2011 an offseason of change for Cards

Following World Series title and 11-year run in St. Louis, Pujols departed for Angels
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- In advance of Major League Baseball's 2018 Winter Meetings, which open Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., MLB.com is highlighting each club's most memorable Winter Meetings in recent history. For the Cardinals, that requires a look back at 2011, when their negotiations with Albert Pujols reached an end.

Days of discussion, negotiation and calculation ended abruptly for the Cardinals on the morning of Dec. 8, 2011. A front-office group that had monopolized the Winter Meetings spotlight suddenly found itself ducking out of the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas unceremoniously.

ST. LOUIS -- In advance of Major League Baseball's 2018 Winter Meetings, which open Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., MLB.com is highlighting each club's most memorable Winter Meetings in recent history. For the Cardinals, that requires a look back at 2011, when their negotiations with Albert Pujols reached an end.

Days of discussion, negotiation and calculation ended abruptly for the Cardinals on the morning of Dec. 8, 2011. A front-office group that had monopolized the Winter Meetings spotlight suddenly found itself ducking out of the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas unceremoniously.

That rushed departure served as the endpoint to what had been a frenzied 42-day period dotted with elation, frustration and widespread change. With little time to soak in the magnitude of their improbable World Series championship run, the Cardinals found themselves faced with organization-altering decisions.

Hot Stove Tracker

They were tasked with replacing a Hall of Fame manager, as well as deciding how to proceed with a franchise player. Attempts to negotiate a contract extension with Pujols over the previous year had been unsuccessful, but the Cardinals arrived in Dallas still hopeful that a deal could be reached.

Pujols did, too, though he was also freely testing the free-agent waters. By that point, he had already traveled to Miami to hear the Marlins' recruiting pitch.

"I'm going to be prayerful about it," Pujols said at the time. "Whatever decision I make hopefully is the best decision I make for my family and the fans and everybody."

When the Winter Meetings opened, Pujols had already received formal offers from both the Cardinals and Marlins. There were indications that other interested clubs were also looming.

Video: Tony LaRussa reflects on Albert Pujols' career

For the Cardinals, there were various opinions about how to proceed strategically. Pujols had already rebuffed their nine-year, $198 million offer just before Spring Training, and there was some organizational hesitancy about the length of a contract for a player who was about to turn 32 years old.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak met with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, on the first full day of the Winter Meetings to discuss how to move forward. A day later, the Cards tendered a revised offer to Pujols. It was later reported that the offer was worth in excess of $200 million over 10 years, though not all guaranteed.

Conversations continued over the next day, with Pujols even getting on the phone with DeWitt to gauge how much the organization wanted him back. What the Cardinals didn't know about, though, were all the discussions happening elsewhere. And the sequence of events that followed came fast and furious.

On that same Tuesday the Cardinals made an offer to Pujols, the Angels gave one that was even bigger and bolder -- a 10-year agreement worth $240 million, plus lucrative performance and milestone incentives and a $10 million personal services agreement.

By Wednesday, the Marlins had bowed out of the pursuit, leaving Pujols to weigh two potential destinations. The next morning, he woke up with a decision made.

Video: WS2011: Pujols talks about Cards' World Series win

Lozano called the Cardinals to inform him that his client would decline the organization's final offer. Pujols' career in St. Louis was over, just hours before the Winter Meetings ended.

"It's a disappointing day, but it's a day that we knew was a possibility," Mozeliak said after hustling back to St. Louis. "I think his 11 years here will always be seen as historic. I don't think today is the day to look at it negative. ... That's a great run."

"We tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal," added DeWitt. "But unfortunately, we were unable to make it happen."

Two days later, while being introduced in front of Angels Stadium, Pujols said his decision came down to "the way [Angels owner Arte Moreno] made me feel."

It was nonetheless a jarring departure for the Cardinals, who also lost Jeff Luhnow, then the team's president of player procurement, to the Astros on the same day Pujols agreed to terms with the Angels. Pujols had spent 11 seasons in St. Louis, won three National League Most Valuable Player Awards and been a member of two World Series championship clubs.

The Cardinals quickly pivoted to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran, and they went on to make the postseason each of the next four seasons. The organization also capitalized on the Draft pick compensation it received. Those two extra picks were used to take Michael Wacha and Stephen Piscotty in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols

Former Cardinal Reyes fighting wildfires in LA

After retiring in 2012, pitcher began lifelong goal of second career
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Former Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, best remembered for outdueling Justin Verlander in the 2006 World Series, is now engaged in a much more serious battle.

Reyes, a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is among the hundreds of firefighters who are trying to control a series of wildfires engulfing the metro area. Reyes was on duty Wednesday night into Thursday, when winds were gusting over 70 mph.

ST. LOUIS -- Former Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, best remembered for outdueling Justin Verlander in the 2006 World Series, is now engaged in a much more serious battle.

Reyes, a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is among the hundreds of firefighters who are trying to control a series of wildfires engulfing the metro area. Reyes was on duty Wednesday night into Thursday, when winds were gusting over 70 mph.

Reyes graduated from the fire academy in March, at which time he joined the LA County Fire Department. It marked the completion of a lifelong goal for the former pitcher, who grew up in a family of firefighters.

"I've always wanted to do it," Reyes told Cardinals Insider in 2016. "I loved playing sports. I loved the fire department. My dad was a firefighter. My grandfather was a firefighter. I always had it in my blood, and I always heard the stories. For me, it felt like a sports team. I thought it was the perfect job."

Tweet from @CardsMagazine: 2006 WS hero Anthony Reyes is officially an LA County firefighter! Here he is with his fam at weekend grad ceremony. #congrats #STLCards pic.twitter.com/IS9dT92QET

After retiring from baseball in 2012, Reyes resumed his college studies at the University of Southern California. After graduating, he became a certified emergency medical technician. He was hired by an ambulance company to work for the Orange County Fire Department before eventually being accepted into the fire academy.

The second career followed a successful first one as a big league pitcher. A 15th-round Draft pick by the Cardinals in 2003, Reyes made his Major League debut two years later. He shuffled back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors for the next four seasons, but he is still remembered around St. Louis for his World Series heroics.

Tapped to start Game 1 against the Tigers just two days after the Cardinals advanced past the Mets in the National League Championship Series, Reyes outpitched a rookie Verlander to lift St. Louis to a win at Comerica Park. Reyes finished eight innings -- something he'd do just one other time in his career -- while limiting Detroit to two runs on four hits. During one stretch, Reyes retired 17 batters in a row.

The Cardinals went on to win the World Series, four games to one.

Video: Catching up with 2006 Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes

Reyes never pitched in the postseason again, and he made his final Major League appearance with the Indians in 2009. The right-hander finished his career with a 13-26 record and a 5.12 ERA.

Reyes' next move was an easy one.

"When I had the opportunity to play baseball and get school paid for and another opportunity as a professional, I took a chance, because you can only play professional baseball for so long," Reyes said in that Cardinals Insider interview. "As a firefighter, you can get into it a little later in life. I thought it was a great opportunity to do two things that I love."

As of Thursday morning, firefighters continued to work to contain the multiple fires spreading around Southern California. Dry conditions and gusting winds continued to complicate those efforts.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Check out the awesome hair at Molina's derby

Yadier Molina hosted a celebrity softball game and home run derby in San Juan on Saturday afternoon to benefit Puerto Rico as the island continues to recover following Hurricane Maria. Many Team Puerto Rico players, including Francisco Lindor, Javy Baez, Eddie Rosario, Edwin Diaz and Roberto Perez, were on hand to take part, raise money for charity and hit dingers. Of course, given their #TeamRubio nickname from the World Baseball Classic, there were plenty bleached hairdos: 

Cards autographs available at Winter Warm-Up

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Beginning at noon CT on Monday, fans can purchase player autograph tickets for the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up, which will be held January 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch.

Autographs for players on the 2017 roster have a preset price that range from $150 to $5. All the proceeds generated from autograph ticket sales will benefit the Redbird Rookies program and other charitable grants handed out by Cardinals Care.

ST. LOUIS -- Beginning at noon CT on Monday, fans can purchase player autograph tickets for the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up, which will be held January 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch.

Autographs for players on the 2017 roster have a preset price that range from $150 to $5. All the proceeds generated from autograph ticket sales will benefit the Redbird Rookies program and other charitable grants handed out by Cardinals Care.

Though player availability is subject to change, the Cardinals currently expect more than 60 players, coaches and alumni to attend the 2018 Winter Warm-Up. Autographs for some of those individuals - including executives Bill DeWitt Jr., Bill DeWitt III and John Mozeliak - will be free of charge.

Getting an autograph from Yadier Molina ($150) will require the largest donation. Other autograph prices of $50 or higher include those for Adam Wainwright ($75), Whitey Herzog ($75), Tony La Russa ($75), Matt Carpenter ($60), Carlos Martinez ($60), Tommy Pham ($60), Stephen Piscotty ($50), Alex Reyes ($50) and Michael Wacha ($50).

All other autograph prices are below that threshold, including those for top prospects Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, Sandy Alcantara, Tyler O'Neill, Magneuris Sierra, Harrison Bader and Dakota Hudson.

A full list of autograph prices and signing times can be found at cardinals.com/WWU. Fans are permitted to purchase up to three autograph tickets per player, while supplies last, with the exception of those who purchase a ticket for Molina's signing session. In that case, tickets are limited to one per person.

Tickets will remain on sale until Jan. 11, and any that remain unsold will then be available for purchase at Winter Warm-Up. Fans who place their orders by noon on Jan. 4 will receive their tickets in the mail. Purchases made after that time will be available for pickup at the Busch Stadium box office or at the Winter Warm-Up autograph ticket booth/kiosks.

The free autograph tickets will be available online and at the Busch Stadium box office on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans are limited to five free player autographs per transactions and a maximum of two per player.

Ballpark Village expansion to begin

The Cardinals announced plans to hold a formal groundbreaking ceremony next Thursday that will mark the start of the second phase of Ballpark Village. This next phase will include construction of a 29-story luxury high-rise residential tower, a Class-A office building, as well a two-story retail marketplace and entertainment venue overlooking the existing Busch II infield.

The new construction is estimated to cost $260 million and projects to be completed in 2019. When finished, the footprint of Ballpark Village, which opened its first phase in 2014, will extend the length of Busch Stadium on Clark Street.

Principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr., team president Bill DeWitt III and St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson are among those scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.

Busch Stadium seats for sale

A limited number of seats recently removed from Busch Stadium III have been made available for purchase, the Cardinals announced on Thursday.

Fifty pairs of premium seats, which feature the die-cut Cardinals logo, will be sold for $750. A total of 250 pairs of standard seats are available at $500 apiece. All seats have been authenticated by Major League Baseball.

To learn more about the items for sale or to make a purchase, visit cardinals.com/seats. All purchases must be picked up at Busch Stadium during select hours from Dec. 22-23.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Cards announce front-office promotions, hires

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- The shuffle in job titles and responsibilities that began with John Mozeliak's promotion to president of baseball operations over the summer has prompted another round of moves and new hires that the Cardinals announced on Thursday.

Highlighting those are the promotion of Luis Morales to director of international operations and administration, and Matt Slater being named a special assistant to general manager Michael Girsch. Slater's focus will remain in player procurement. Morales fills the director role vacated when Moises Rodriguez became an assistant general manager in September.

ST. LOUIS -- The shuffle in job titles and responsibilities that began with John Mozeliak's promotion to president of baseball operations over the summer has prompted another round of moves and new hires that the Cardinals announced on Thursday.

Highlighting those are the promotion of Luis Morales to director of international operations and administration, and Matt Slater being named a special assistant to general manager Michael Girsch. Slater's focus will remain in player procurement. Morales fills the director role vacated when Moises Rodriguez became an assistant general manager in September.

Others in the baseball operations group who received promotions include Matt Bayer (manager of scouting analytics), Tyler Hadzinsky (amateur scouting coordinator/analyst) and Emily Wiebe (baseball operations analyst).

Also announced were changes within the organization's scouting department, which is headed by second-year director Randy Flores. The Cardinals hired four new area scouts -- Stacey Pettis (Northern California), Jim Negrych (Northeast), Chris Rodriguez (Pacific Northwest) and Alix Martinez (Dominican Republic) -- in addition to promoting crosscheckers Sean Moran (national), Zach Mortimer (Northeast) and Joe Almaraz (international). Additionally, Damaso Espino will serve as the Latin American crosschecker.

The Cardinals have brought in Jose Leger to serve as the organization's Latin American field and academy development coordinator. Jose Gonzalez Maestre was named a scouting supervisor for Venezuela.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals

Secret Santas: Voit, Kelly surprise fans at drive

Sixth annual holiday event sees 1,614 gifts, $1,225 in gift cards donated
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Fans who pulled up in front of Busch Stadium on Wednesday morning to unload toys and gift cards in support of the Cardinals' gift drive were surprised with more than just a cup of complimentary hot chocolate.

If they were paying close attention, they would have realized that Santa's helpers were two familiar faces.

ST. LOUIS -- Fans who pulled up in front of Busch Stadium on Wednesday morning to unload toys and gift cards in support of the Cardinals' gift drive were surprised with more than just a cup of complimentary hot chocolate.

If they were paying close attention, they would have realized that Santa's helpers were two familiar faces.

First baseman Luke Voit and catcher Carson Kelly, who are spending the offseason in St. Louis, joined members of the Cardinals organization to help with the sixth annual holiday event. For seven hours, volunteers collected donations that will be distributed to various charities throughout the month.

Tweet from @Cardinals: Thank you to everyone who donated to our Annual Holiday Gift Drive! pic.twitter.com/Q8G0UprvwJ

"I've been fortunate enough to always have Christmas morning, and Christmas morning is the best thing in the world for a little kid," Voit said. "It's nice to always give back to kids who don't have the chance for all that."

The Cardinals collected 1,614 gifts and $1,225 in gift cards during the drive. Cash donations were also made.

Once gifts were dropped off, they were taken into the Joe Cunningham Corner event space inside Busch Stadium, where dozens of volunteers were ready to wrap. Voit and Kelly spent time assisting there, too. They meticulously wrapped puzzles, games, books and other toys.

"I think we did OK," Kelly joked afterward. "It's just great to get out here with Cardinal Care and all they've done for this community. It's a lot of fun to be a part of, and a great opportunity to give back to the community."

A portion of the gifts will be distributed by Fredbird during a Breakfast with Santa event hosted by the American Red Cross at Scott Air Force Base on Saturday. The rest will be given over to local charities Angel's Arms, Southside Early Childhood Center, Annie Malone Children's Home and Youth In Need to ensure that as many children as possible receive gifts this holiday season.

"We hope everyone in this area has a good Christmas morning," Voit said.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals