As the St. Louis Cardinals Begin Shortstop Shopping, Carlos Beltran Turns Down the Club's Qualifying Offer

Ronald Martinez

Early in the Hot Stove, the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason is beginning to take shape.

The 4:00 p.m. CDT deadline for Carlos Beltran to accept the St. Louis Cardinals' qualifying offer has passed. Beltran turned down the one-year, $14.1 million offer from the Cardinals. The switch-hitting outfielder will now test the free agent waters for the third time in his illustrious career. While it is possible the Cardinals and Beltran could yet reach a deal on a longer free agent contract, it appears unlikely.

General manager John Mozeliak's 2011 signing of Beltran was a fair one. The two-year, $26 million contract to which the Cardinals inked Beltran brought back a good return. The following chart shows Beltran's production while wearing the Birds on the Bat.

Year

G

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

wRC+

fWAR

2012

151

619

32

.269

.346

.495

.842

.355

126

3.3

2013

145

600

24

.296

.339

.491

.830

.359

132

2.0

Total

296

1219

56

.282

.343

.493

.836

.357

129

5.3

Beltran's 5.3 fWAR was worth $25.1 million in Fangraphs bucks. The Cardinals paid a slight premium for the production Beltran provided. A $14.1 million salary in 2014 would have likely been another, albeit larger, overpay for the slugger.

As things sit now, the Cardinals appear content to allow Beltran to make his money elsewhere. Manager Mike Matheny told ESPN's Jim Bowden that Beltran already had an offer on the table from a team other than the Cardinals last week. If (when?) Beltran signs with another team, the Cardinals will receive the 44th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft as compensation.

###

More tea leaves have begun to take shape for el Birdos' Hot Stove maneuverings. Over the weekend, Bowden tweeted the following after Mozeliak appeared on his radio show:

Bowden also tweeted:

At Yahoo!, Jeff Passan wrote a juicy article today regarding the Cardinals' quest to trade for a shortstop. It is well worth reading in its entirety. Passan appears to confirm Bowden's tweets regarding the Rangers and Cardinals as potential trade partners, with the Cardinals interested in acquiring either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, according to his "sources."

Passan also reported that the Cardinals and Rockies "are expected to meet at the GM/owners' meetings in Orlando this week and discuss parameters of a potential trade involving Troy Tulowitzski." Passan writes that Tulowitzki is the Cards' shortstop of choice. Passan also states that the Rockies are weary of trading Tulowitzki, a beloved homegrown talent, because of the potential for fan backlash.

Passan's report is a mixture of anonymously sourced reporting and what is apparently his own conjecture:

Certainly the Cardinals have the pieces to land him – or, if the Rockies balk, one of the Rangers' shortstops. Between a logjam at first base and a surplus of hard-throwing, young arms, St. Louis has stockpiled the sort of talent to pull off a 3- or 4-for-1 deal. In a previous conversation between the teams about a possible Tulowitzki deal, first baseman Matt Adams' name surfaced, with Colorado needing a long-term replacement for the retiring Todd Helton and St. Louis unlikely to trade Allen Craig because his team-friendly contract keeps him under control as long as Adams.

In addition, the Rockies would like to add at least one young starter to a pair of promising right-handed prospects: Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft, and Eddie Butler, who blew away scouts at the Futures Game with a power sinker that topped out at 98 mph. Shelby Miller especially would fit that slot, with Lance Lynn a less-desirable option; the Cardinals, sources said, would not entertain a deal that includes rookie Michael Wacha. St. Louis likely would need to include either lefty flamethrower Kevin Siegrist or closer Trevor Rosenthal, and perhaps one more piece, depending on how hard a bargain Colorado plans on driving.

The Denver Post's Troy Renck wrote a post of his own on the persistent Tulo-to-the-Cardinals rumors.

This much I know: there has been no seismic shift in the Rockies’ thinking regarding Tulowitzki. The Rockies always listen when teams inquire. They have made that part of their due diligence for years. So if the Cardinals were to make some crazy offer — like including Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal and Allen Craig– of course the Rockies would listen. But there are no indications that the Cardinals will move any of those players, let alone all three. And I don’t think a package of Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams or Kolten Wong even comes close to getting the talks simmering.

So there you have it. The offseason rumor mill is grinding away. 'Tis the (off)season for anonymous sources and reporter speculation.

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