When the Cardinals entered this offseason intent on adding a lineup-altering presence they did so with a handful of desirable prospects, ample financial resources, and one other “strength” John Mozeliak mentioned Wednesday evening that is certainly being tested this week.
They can have patience.
“Are you missing out on opportunity because you’re engaged in ‘X’?” said Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations. “And I feel like the way we’re approaching our offseason there is more than one thing to accomplish, so it hasn’t affected our pace or timing. I’ve been doing this long enough to know there are always ways to improve. I think for us, patience and optimism are going to be our strength.”
Both are certainly in play with the biggest fish they’re still trying to lure.
The Giancarlo Stanton saga appears to be nearing a resolution almost a week after the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants met with the 2017 National League MVP in person, in the Los Angeles area. The Marlins and Cardinals have the understanding of what a trade would look like for Stanton — as do the Marlins and Giants — and all the sides are waiting on is Stanton to decide whether he will waive his no-trade clause. The Los Angeles Dodgers loom in the conversations in part because Stanton reportedly would prefer to play there.
The Cardinals have been given no timetable for Stanton’s decision, though Miami has indicated it does not want this to linger into the holidays. Next week’s winter meetings offer a tidy timeline, allowing all parties to move on quickly to other moves. The Cardinals have offered the better collection of prospects, according to sources, and would undertake a larger portion of the $295 million remaining on Stanton’s contract. If the Dodgers are a threat to the Giants’ interest, then perhaps geography is the biggest challenge to the Cardinals. If Stanton is intent on going to the West Coast, the Cardinals have had to determine if they’re players for the slugger or being played to draw better offers.
Mozeliak declined to comment Wednesday.
He suggested what he thinks is a favorable approach: “Patience.”
San Francisco’s general manager, Bobby Evans, told The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday that he and the Marlins have an agreement on a trade — putting them in the same waiting room as the Cardinals. Evans also told the paper about his meeting with Stanton and whether he got the sense Stanton was holding out for the Dodgers to make a bid.
“I think he’s being very thoughtful about his decision, and it’s an important decision for him because he obviously has a lot vested here,” Evans told the Chronicle. “He’s got to make a call on where he feels comfortable going. There are a lot of personal factors people don’t know about. We don’t necessarily know those personal factors as well.”
Mozeliak appeared Wednesday night at Ballpark Village to join KMOX (1120 AM) for an hour as part of the team’s first “Countdown to Opening Day Show.” During his hour on the air, Mozeliak acknowledged how the team prefers to keep “as much as we can under wraps” when it comes to trade discussions and free-agent pursuits. The annual winter meetings are a week later this offseason than previous years, and that, coupled with a relatively simmering hot stove, can mean “people get impatient,” Mozeliak agreed.
“I do believe in this particular situation,” Mozeliak said on the air without directly naming the Stanton discussion, “patience is one of our strengths, and that’s how we have to approach it.”
Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hosted his coaching staff Monday and Tuesday for meetings at Busch Stadium. That gave new pitching coach Mike Maddux and new addition Willie McGee time with the returning coaches, and the front office had the opportunity to map out with the coaches how to make some of the improvements desired. Mozeliak has repeatedly mentioned that the team needs to declutter its baserunning, and the Cardinals would like to use Maddux’s addition to advance how pitching decisions are made.
In addition to pursuing Stanton, while also preparing to shift to other targets, the Cardinals have also been in talks with free-agent relievers and several teams that would consider trading a closer. The Cardinals finalized a two-year, $15.5-million deal with Miles Mikolas on Tuesday, and Mozeliak said he does not expect the team to chase another starter.
The relief market, however, is poised to move.
“Many calls out to many different agents,” Mozeliak said. “It does seem like all of this is headed toward Orlando, but who knows?”
Executives from around Major League Baseball will begin arriving at a Disney World hotel Sunday with the annual winter meetings revving to action Monday. The Cardinals have finalized their coaching staff and addressed the depth they wanted for the rotation, but the two major additions atop their winter wish list — a middle-order hitter and a closer — remain unfilled. The Cardinals, with so many resources, have been described by rivals as one of the more “aggressive” teams on the market.
They await the Cardinals’ move.
The Cardinals feel they can wait on the right one.
“Aggressive does not make you smart,” Mozeliak said. “I hope in the end we still make smart decisions.”