ST. LOUIS -- With insufficient production and no obvious path for more playing time, Jhonny Peralta saw his tenure with the Cardinals come to an abrupt end on Friday when the organization designated the veteran infielder for assignment as part of a series of player and staff moves.
The Cardinals' readiness to activate second baseman Kolten Wong from the disabled list brought them to a crossroads with Peralta, who was once a key piece on division-winning clubs. However, his contributions had been limited since he suffered a thumb injury in March 2016.
That cost Peralta his job as a starting shortstop, and this year, a series of circumstances -- underwhelming production, a strong start by Jedd Gyorko, unintended side effects from medication and an unwillingness to increase his defensive versatility -- squeezed Peralta out altogether. At the plate, he was 11-for-54 with no extra-base hits and no RBIs.
"You end up going 0-7 [on the road trip] and look at the totality of the last 21 days and how the team has played, I really was seeing if there was going to be an opportunity for us to ever use Jhonny over that time period," general manager John Mozeliak said. "As time started to expire, the opportunity just didn't show itself."
Mozeliak said he did not explore trading Peralta prior to Friday's transaction. But he will now. If Mozeliak can't find an interested trade partner, the Cardinals will release the 35-year-old, who is in the final season of a four-year, $53 million contract. In that scenario, the Cardinals would be responsible for paying the remainder of Peralta's $10 million 2017 salary.
"I think Jhonny was at that point where he understood where we were as a club and some of the parts we have in place," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think he even figured at some point it'd be best to move on. It's now a challenge for him to see if he can find a place to play and go continue to show that he can do what he does."
The decision to move on from Peralta was the latest in a wave of roster moves the Cardinals have made to try to jumpstart the club. During this stretch of 17 losses in 22 games, they have traded Matt Adams, released Jonathan Broxton and sent Randal Grichuk back to the Class A Advanced level.
More moves could be forthcoming, too.
The Cardinals will add a 26th man to the roster for their doubleheader on Tuesday, and Mozeliak was candid in noting that further shakeup would be on the table if play doesn't improve. Among those players expected to get another look soon is Grichuk, who, after having had time to clear his mind and work on his swing, was assigned to Triple-A on Friday.
"At some point we'll have to get Grichuk the opportunity to do this every day and either sink or swim," Mozeliak said. "Because as we start to look at what 2018 looks like and beyond, we need a real sense of where we are [with him]."
He's not the only player whose future fit will be scrutinized in the coming months. Mozeliak did not discount the possibility of taking the unusual position as sellers at the Trade Deadline if the club can't correct its current trajectory soon.
"I don't think we'd ever look at trying to finish last as a strategy, but I do think there might be assets on the team that we could [leverage] that make sense for us," he said. "We're going to take the next four-to-six weeks and see where we are. Clearly, we want to put a product out there that we're proud of and a product that people are excited about, a product that after a game, you've got some fist bumps and smiles going on. And right now we're not doing that."