ST. LOUIS -- Unsure of how he fit into the Cardinals' 2013 plans, Skip Schumaker, along with his agent, met with general manager John Mozeliak shortly after the season ended and expressed a willingness to be traded before entering into the final year of his current two-year contract.
The Cardinals found a trade partner with the Dodgers, and on Wednesday the two clubs announced a swap that will send Schumaker to Los Angeles and Minor League infielder Jake Lemmerman to St. Louis. Though reports of a pending deal surfaced Tuesday, an official announcement had to wait until after Schumaker underwent and passed the Dodgers' physical exam.
With Lemmerman, the Cardinals improve their Minor League depth at shortstop, a position that is lacking in impact talent within the organization's farm system. Lemmerman, a fifth-round pick out of Duke University in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, advanced to Double-A late in the 2011 season and returned there in 2012. He hit .233 with a .347 on-base percentage.
The Cardinals are short on young shortstops, which could present a problem when Rafael Furcal becomes a free agent next offseason. Whether Lemmerman, 23, can emerge as a viable everyday shortstop remains an unknown.
The Cardinals have not yet determined whether Lemmerman will begin 2013 in Double-A or Triple-A, but the organization intends to use him solely as a shortstop, Mozeliak said. If Lemmerman can climb to Triple-A in 2013 and impress, he could at least put himself in the discussion as a potential successor to Furcal.
Lemmerman's offensive numbers dipped in 2012, one year after he was a California (Class A) League All-Star. Scouting reports list him as an above-average defender with average arm strength and speed. He is more polished on defense than offense and is not expected to develop into much of a power threat.
As for Schumaker, he is faced with leaving an organization that signed him out of the Draft in 2001. Schumaker made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2005 and appeared in at least 100 games for St. Louis each of the last five seasons. He was a part of two World Series championship clubs.
"On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization, I want to thank Skip for his professionalism and many contributions to our ballclub during his 12-year association," Mozeliak said in a statement issued by the club Wednesday. "Skip helped provide many great memories for Cardinals fans and we wish he and his family all the best with the Dodgers."
Schumaker played exclusively in the outfield up until 2009, which is when then-manager Tony La Russa began using him at second base. It seemed as if second base would offer Schumaker substantial playing time in 2012, but by the end of the season, the Cardinals were using Daniel Descalso as their everyday second baseman.
That trend continued into the postseason, where Schumaker contributed solely off the bench.
Just days after the Cardinals' playoff run ended, Mozeliak indicated that Schumaker would not be considered for everyday playing time at second base next season, either. That expectation of continued decreased playing time prompted Schumaker to consider the possibility of playing out the rest of his current contract elsewhere. He is owed $1.5 million in 2013.
Landing in Los Angeles would seem to be an ideal scenario for Schumaker, who makes his permanent home in Southern California. He is also close with new Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, who did offseason work with Schumaker long before McGwire was hired as the Cardinals' hitting coach.
Schumaker finishes his eight-year Cardinals career with a .288 batting average and .345 on-base percentage. While with the organization, Schumaker was also active in several community outreach endeavors. Among the most personal were the fundraising efforts he coordinated for baby Reesa Stutzman, the infant daughter of Schumaker's close friends, Sean and Jamie Stutzman, this past summer. Reesa was diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder with no cure, during Spring Training.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.