Winter Meetings Recap: St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals, unlike many teams, filled the majority of their offseason needs outside the confines of the recently completed Winter Meetings held in Orlando, Florida. The Cardinals, who had used a patchwork approach to filling the shortstop position the past few years, decided to go all-in when they signed Jhonny Peralta to a 4-year deal. Peralta, who played for the Detroit Tigers in 2013, should provide the Cardinals with the offensive output that has been lacking at shortstop in recent years.
The Redbirds also sent third baseman David Freese and relief pitcher Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels in return for outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. Bourjos is expected to compete for the starting center field position with incumbent Jon Jay while Grichuk will likely open the season at Triple-A Memphis next spring. The Cardinals did sign Minor League free agent Angel Castro during the Winter Meetings. Castro, a right-handed pitcher, was with the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A affiliate during the 2013 season. In addition, St. Louis signed a pair of players during the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 draft. Shortstop Greg Miclat was plucked from the Texas Rangers organization and first baseman Jesus Ustariz was selected from the Tigers. Miclat reached the Triple-A level in 2013 and Ustariz split the 2013 season at Rookie Level and Low Class A ball last season.
Finally, the Cardinals secured an experienced insurance policy at second base when they signed Mark Ellis to a 1-year deal. Ellis, who played for the Dodgers in 2013, provides a valuable right-handed hitting addition to the St. Louis roster. The Redbirds front office has indicated they intend to give rookie Kolten Wong the inside shot to become the starting second baseman when Spring Training opens next February in Jupiter, Florida. However, if Wong does not demonstrate he is ready to handle the regular second base duties next spring Ellis would be able to step in and give the Cardinals a veteran presence in their lineup. With the signing of Ellis the Redbirds would seem to be poised to send either Daniel Descalso or Pete Kozma down to Memphis to open the 2013 season. Since Descalso is a left-handed bat and Kozma hits right-handed, the latter would seem the most likely candidate to be sent down.
As things currently stand, Matt Carpenter will move from second base to third base to fill the spot vacated when Freese was traded to the Angels.