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Signing starting pitcher a possibility for Cardinals

St. Louis filled major roster holes early in offseason

ST. LOUIS -- With a new year having arrived and the start of Spring Training on the horizon, the Cardinals find themselves in the enviable position of having completed all of their primary offseason objectives. They acted early so as to eliminate any desperation late, a method that has served the organization well in recent years.

Here is a review of the work done since the Cardinals bowed out of the National League Championship Series and also a peek at what remains ahead in the six weeks leading up to the team's spring report date:

Already accomplished: The Cardinals were quick to eliminate items from their offseason to-do list, which was topped by addressing the right-field void. A November trade with the Braves netted Jason Heyward, who will slide in as the team's everyday right fielder in 2015. The team's need to fortify its bullpen was aided by the organization's insistence that right-hander Jordan Walden also be included in that four-player trade.

The Cardinals added free-agent reliever Matt Belisle and free-agent first baseman Mark Reynolds to the club in December to continue plugging holes. The acquisitions of utility players Dean Anna and Ty Kelly give the Cardinals increased depth as they look to fill out their bench.

Still left to do: Though the Cardinals reached a two-year agreement with Walden just before Christmas, the club still has four unsigned arbitration-eligible players. The club and those players -- Lance Lynn, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos and Tony Cruz -- each have the rest of the month to independently work out a deal before arbitration hearings would begin. If such a hearing is needed, the salary decision made by the arbitration panel would be binding.

In terms of additional outside adds, general manager John Mozeliak has said that the club may dip into the free-agent starting-pitching market in January if the team sees the right fit. In doing so, the Cardinals would give themselves depth in case of injury or a lack of readiness from Carlos Martinez to be a season-long member of the rotation.

Other than potentially adding another starting pitcher, the Cardinals appear to have their winter work wrapped up. Any other moves made between now and the start of Spring Training would be of the opportunistic sort, similar to what the club did last winter in signing Pat Neshek to a Minor League deal just before camp opened.

Important dates ahead:

Tuesday: National Baseball Hall of Fame to announce BBWAA voting results for 2015 class (1 p.m. CT)

Jan. 16: Unsigned arbitration-eligible players will exchange salary figures with teams

Jan. 17-19: Cardinals to hold their annual Winter Warm-Up event at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch

Feb. 1-21: Arbitration hearings to be held for unsigned players

Feb. 19: Final date for Cardinals pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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