The Cardinals president of baseball operations is back in town and joined Mike Kelly via the phone for Sports on a Sunday Morning this weekend.
Here are some of the highlights of their conversation:
Marcell Ozuna trade:
“The Marlins and the Cardinals had an intimate view of each other and understood a lot of prospect values, and how we were thinking through the Staton deal. So when we pivoted to Ozuna, it was a pretty easy transition for us, and I think for them it was just sort of understanding the market. We kept trying to push for it and ultimately we got it done.”
In the deal, St. Louis sent pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano, and outfielder Magneuris Sierra to Miami. The Cardinals were expected to trade away some of their loaded outfield talent this offseason.
But not knowing which players would leave, Kelly asked Mozeliak how tough of a decision it was to include Sierra in that deal. Sierra was electric in his short stints in St. Louis last season, hitting .317/.359/.317.
Mozeliak guessed that Sierra was likely going to fight for an everyday spot with the triple-A Memphis Redbirds in 2018. But he’d be up against the likes of Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill and José Adolis García, plus he believes the other outfielders in double-A Springfield would also be taking away starts from Sierra.
Any deals still left to be had?
“There are certainly some things that we want to explore, I’m not exactly sure of the timing of all of that but, yesterday I was in the office definitely trying to take a step back and look at where we possibly could still go and I feel pretty good about some of the opportunities that may exist. But in saying that, it’s still something that I think this offseason is not over yesterday this offseason will be over when we get to Jupiter.”
St. Louis completed two trades, but was rumored to be involved in a handful of others throughout last week’s Winter Meetings. Those deals still looming include: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles; Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays; and Alex Colome and Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays.
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But the deals for Donaldson and Machado come with hesitation because both players’ contracts expire after the 2018 season.
“If you’re trading away two or three prospects, that have a combined 18 years of control, for one, that doesn’t sit well with me. I think for us it’s all about trying to find that right balance between what works for us and what we’re willing to give up. But we’re in this for the long haul, we’re going to continue to invest in our pipeline. We want a strong farm system and that’s how we’re going to be defined.”
There’s a conclusion some Cardinals fans are making, based on the new short-term deals with Luke Gregerson and Miles Mikolas and Ozuna’s contract through 2019, that St. Louis is making the 2019 season “the year” to make a World Series run. After the 2018 season, Adam Wainwright is a free agent and that will open up $19.5 million for St. Louis to spend on players like Bryce Harper, Machado, Donaldson and other All-Stars who will become free agents.
“Really, it’s because we didn’t want to lock ourselves into five or six or seven-year commitments when we have such a rich group at double-A and triple-A. And so, ultimately when you’re looking at how to put your roster together over time we felt this gave us the ultimate flexibility.”
But what can’t be forgotten are the free agent options still waiting, the top players in that group include: Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and Mike Moustakas.
Changes in the defensive positioning for Dexter Fowler, Paul DeJong and Matt Carpenter:
Kelly asked Mozeliak about the future defensive positions of three specific players.
Dexter Fowler moving to a corner outfield position:
“He’s good with it… You look at an outfield now of Ozuna, (Tommy) Pham and Fowler, it’s pretty dynamic. Not only from a defensive standpoint but also from an offensive standpoint… Then even when you take one step back further and you’re saying O.K, (Randal) Grichuk is going to be our fourth outfielder, that’s a really good player.”
What is Paul DeJong’s best position?:
“He did a very good job at shortstop this past year, and he was learning on the fly, making adjustments and it would be hard for me not to tell you it was pretty exciting. In terms of what is his best position, I guess you could argue that you could envision him being a pretty dynamic player at any infield position. As long as that bat plays, we’ll find him a place to play.”
What will Matt Carpenter’s position be?:
“This year we’re going to explore him as a more flexible player… We need to have the ability to be able to move him around because when you look at what (Jose) Martinez did at first base, from an offensive standpoint and being right handed, I think trying to give Mike Matheny the ability to have some interchangeable parts could really create some success for us.”
Groundbreaking on Ballpark Village phase 2 last week:
“It’s more than just being able to think about adding payroll it’s really more about our commitment to downtown. And when you look at what the DeWitt’s are trying to do, it’s create that vibrant, safe, attractive environment that people enjoy and want to come to.”