After missing Stanton, Cards refocus on needs

Team could still be considering adding an 'elite-type bat'

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Their pursuit of 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.
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"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."

Yet, so far the Cardinals' lone offseason adds have come from the free-agent market. They signed starter 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.

"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."