The Cardinals are interested in acquiring Josh Donaldson, but questions persist as to the Blue Jays' willingness to trade him.
With Eric Hosmer, there's no such uncertainty.
Hosmer is a free agent, and one source said Tuesday that the Cardinals are pursuing the All-Star first baseman, among other options to improve their lineup.
The Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins last month, but team officials would like to add one more prominent position player before Spring Training. The Cardinals were a league-average offensive team in 2017, as they missed the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in nearly a decade.
The Padres have ongoing interest in Hosmer, sources say. The Royals -- the only Major League team for which Hosmer has played -- do as well. But Hosmer appeared to lose one major suitor, the Red Sox, when they re-signed Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract.
Matt Carpenter's versatility is an asset in the Cardinals' pursuit of Hosmer -- or Donaldson, for that matter. Carpenter is the only Major League player to start at least 150 games at first base and third base over the past three seasons. As such, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak can acquire an everyday player at either infield corner and plan for Carpenter to play the other one.
The Cardinals have been trying to upgrade their infield defense since 2016, and Hosmer's athleticism would help in that regard. His four Gold Gloves are the most of any Major League first baseman in the current decade. He's also coming off a career offensive season, during which he appeared in all 162 games while posting an .882 OPS with 25 home runs.
It's likely that Hosmer's agent, Scott Boras, will have consistent communication with Mozeliak in the coming weeks. Boras represents several free agents who fit the Cardinals' roster, including Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and closer Greg Holland.
Luke Gregerson, who closed for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic, signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Cardinals last month, but the team has left open the possibility of adding another late-inning reliever. The three relievers with the most saves for the Cardinals in 2017 -- Seunghwan Oh, Trevor Rosenthal and Juan Nicasio -- are no longer on the roster.
Boras clients occasionally have found success by signing lucrative one-year contracts that allow them to re-enter free agency (presumably under better market conditions) the following winter. But that is an unlikely strategy for Moustakas, 29, since Donaldson and Manny Machado will be free agents at the same position next offseason. At the moment, Moustakas is the most desirable free-agent third baseman after hitting a franchise-record 38 home runs for the Royals in 2017.