Cards extend Mozeliak through 2025 season

February 14th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- In a move thought for months to be a formality following the Cardinals' run of sustained success over the past 15 seasons, the club signed president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to an extension through the 2025 season on Tuesday.

Mozeliak has overseen the construction of 15 straight St. Louis teams with winning records. Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said during the team’s Winter Warm Up festivities in January that he was very happy with the job Mozeliak has done in keeping the club competitive and that he was interested in retaining the team’s top decision-maker for baseball operations.

“Mo has created an environment and a leadership with our front office that has ensured -- at least from my viewpoint -- continued success for the future,” DeWitt Jr. said. “He has great people working under him, and he’s done a terrific job on all fronts.”

More than the extended streak of winning seasons, Mozeliak said he is proud that the Cardinals have been able to keep a competitive team on the field without having to totally reset the roster. He said satisfying a hungry Cardinals fanbase is a never-ending job, but he’s happy that the Cardinals have remained competitive through the years while transitioning through various talented players.

“When you think about winning seasons, that’s nice, but we’ve never had to tear it down, go through a couple of painful years and then hope for the best,” Mozeliak said. “When you are trying to appease a fanbase that shows up in such numbers of 3 million and more, I think they’re grateful of the type of product we roll out there. We understand that the ultimate goal is to be the last man standing, but with the journey to get there, we take a lot of pride in winning years.”

Mozeliak said on Monday that the Cardinals have assembled what he believes will be a roster teeming with young talent surrounding established veterans Adam Wainwright, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. In addition to landing the top catcher on the free-agent market, Willson Contreras, Mozeliak talked Wainwright into coming back for another season, and he convinced Arenado not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract in October. Those moves should give the Cardinals a strong chance of repeating as National League Central champions.

In other areas of the roster -- the outfield, the bullpen and the middle infield -- Mozeliak has tried to foster a sense of true competition to bring out the best in the players under contract. In the outfield, established big leaguers Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and Lars Nootbaar will be forced to work daily for their jobs against upstarts Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson and Juan Yepez. As for the bullpen, the Cardinals figure to have eight left-handed relievers battling for three bullpen slots. Infielders Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Paul DeJong and Yepez will be working to lock down roster spots while Tommy Edman is away from camp and playing for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic.

“We always talk about competition in camp, and candidly, I’ll admit it, sometimes there really isn’t,” Mozeliak said on Monday. “This year, I think it’s pretty genuine. Performance and what people do is going to matter, and with what our 26-man roster is going to look like, I could sit here and write out a guess, but I’d probably write out 32 names.”

What Mozeliak has done with the Cardinals since becoming the team’s senior vice president and general manager in October of 2007 matters to a franchise that prides itself on sustained success and being a constant contender for a World Series. His deft trades for '11 World Series MVP David Freese plus Goldschmidt and Arenado have been major factors in a run of Cardinals contenders. St. Louis won it all in '11, took the NL pennant in '13 and reached the NLCS in '19 on Mozeliak’s watch.

Prior to last season, Mozeliak made the bold moves of replacing manager Mike Shildt with Oliver Marmol and reuniting Albert Pujols with the organization for which he starred during the first 11 years of his career. Marmol, MLB’s youngest manager last season at 36, became the youngest Major League manager in 53 years to win a division and reach the playoffs. As for Pujols, his addition proved to be a stroke of genius, as he hit 24 home runs at 42 years old, making him one of four players in AL/NL history with at least 700 home runs.

By the time Mozeliak’s extension expires he will have put in 30 years with the Cardinals -- the majority of them while running the baseball operations side of the franchise. DeWitt said on Tuesday that Mozeliak’s history of success already makes him a candidate to possibly don a red jacket as a member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the future.

Before that time, Mozeliak has his focus on keeping the Cardinals pushing for the franchise’s 12th World Series title -- a challenge that seemingly grows more difficult by the day with rivals in the NL spending more money on talent than ever before. Mozeliak said it’s up to him and his staff to figure out creative ways for the Cardinals to win while keeping the team’s payroll in line with their small-market budget constraints.

“Bill and I look at a lot of things when we made decisions on how we’re going to spend and invest, and I think the worst thing we can do is have a copycat model,” Mozeliak said. “Because someone is doing it, you feel you have to do it. What we’ve done over the last 30 years is we’ve done what we feel is best for us. I would imagine that model is not going to change.

“People will say, ‘Bill and Mo are satisfied just getting to October,’” he added. “Well, no, we like the big shiny thing you put on your ring finger. That’s cool, and grabbing that trophy is amazing. That’s what we’re going to strive for, but how we go about it might be a little different than our competitors.”