The St. Louis Cardinals did their homework a couple of weeks in advance, and now there's nothing left to do except sit quietly and read while everybody else works on it.
The above quote is from Dan Moore previewing the Winter Meeting just one year ago. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Twelve months later, the Cardinals find themselves in much the same position. After wrapping up the Jhonny Peralta signing and David Freese for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk trade, the Cardinals went to the Winter Meetings seeking only middle infield depth. They left the meetings without finding that depth, but signed Mark Ellis within a week of last year's Winter Meetings.
Like last year, the Cardinals made their trade for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden, getting a star outfielder and a late-inning option for the bullpen. The Cardinals recent signing of Matt Belisle further fortifies the bullpen. On Saturday, Ben wrote on the quality job John Mozeliak has done in addressing the Cardinals needs this offseason. The rotation, starting lineup, and bullpen are nearly set for spring. Headlines like "Cardinals not expected to do much at winter meetings" and subheadings like "Having already addressed biggest need, Cards could be quiet in San Diego" accurately describe the Cardinals posture heading to San Diego. The Cardinals might not do much, but they do have a few items on the agenda.
Like last season, the Cardinals are seeking out depth. In 2015, a right-handed first baseman who could potentially play some outfield should appeal to the Cardinals. Kyle Blanks, Gaby Sanchez, and John Mayberry became free agents when their teams did not offer them contracts for 2015. Ben discussed Corey Hart last month as a potential target. In his preview of the winter meetings, Rick Hummel mentioned Mark Reynolds as a possibility. From the same article,
Mozeliak said the recent glut of free agents, via non-tenders, didn't excite him.
Mozeliak also expressed optimism regarding Kevin Siegrist, and commented more on his strategy.
Mozeliak's primary focus is that righthanded batter who could platoon with lefthanded-hitting Matt Adams at first base, if necessary, or take an occasional outfield start against lefthanders besides pinch hit."We're going to continue to look and see," Mozeliak said. "My preference would be not to have to trade for it, but we won't ignore that."This is not an area severe enough that Mozeliak envisions himself overpaying."I would say one of the things that we try to do is remain disciplined in how we think through things," he said. "But right now, I don't feel we're in a place where we have to panic or make an irrational decision just to fill out the roster."
Do not be surprised if the Cardinals wait out the market during the Winter Meetings and sign someone after other teams' activity provides more clarity. When John Mozeliak targets someone, a deal tends to happen quickly. In this case, Mozeliak appears to be content with waiting.
In addition to a right-handed bat, the Cardinals also plan to speak with John Lackey, as Ben wrote about this morning. As the Cardinals entered the Winter Meetings last year, Dan recommended pretending that Jhonny Peralta had just signed. For the purposes of these meetings, it is perfectly acceptable to remain excited about the Cardinals' acquisition of Jason Heyward.