Cardinals continue to canvas infield market
Club talks to free agents, yet makes it clear Wong will start at second base
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cardinals have made their pitch to several free-agent infielders and now will wait to see if any of them are willing to join an organization where regular playing time is not being promised.
While meeting with various agents this week at the Winter Meetings, general manager John Mozeliak has made it clear that the Cardinals intend to give Kolten Wong the first crack at the starting second base job. The organization would like to have a right-handed-hitting infielder to complement Wong, but this job will not come with guaranteed playing time.
As a result, the Cardinals are pushed into a position of patience, waiting for players to scout the market for potential playing time elsewhere before considering St. Louis' overtures.
"Honesty is a good approach in this," Mozeliak said. "I certainly don't want to sell somebody a bit of goods that is not going to come true. I would rather over-deliver than under-deliver. ... Our positioning right now is to basically sell what we have, explain it, and simply just sort of see where things unfold.
"I wouldn't say we're lying in the weeds. We're trying to keep the pulse of what's happening. If we can do something, we will. But it's not something that we feel has to happen before we leave [on Thursday]. When they're looking at true opportunity, they know Kolten Wong exists. And they know that our intentions are for him to play."
Mozeliak sees the ideal fit as being an infielder who can play multiple positions. That would give the Cardinals a right-handed-hitting utility infielder to complement the left-handed-hitting Daniel Descalso, who can also play several positions. Adding another right-handed bat could squeeze Pete Kozma out of a place on the Cardinals' roster.
As it stands now, the Cardinals plan to have Kozma work at multiple infield positions during Spring Training.
The Cards have explored the trade market as a way to fill this hole, but have thus far faced asking prices much greater than they are willing to pay for a projected backup player. In the meantime, Mozeliak remains confident that Wong is ready to be a productive Major League player if given the chance.
Wong, while impressive defensively, went just 9-for-59 with one extra-base hit and no RBIs during his Major League stint in 2013.
"Clearly, what he has shown is he can hit both a left-hand pitcher and a right-hand pitcher," Mozeliak said. "But if there was a way for us to give that line of protection, we need to think about it. And it's certainly something that between now and leading up to Opening Day, it is something we might explore."