Chris Carpenter

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Cardinals prepared to trade young starting pitching this winter for a shortstop upgrade


Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is not being shy about his primary offseason strategy:

There are a couple of shortstop options on the free agent market in Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew, but the Cardinals would rather use their surplus of starting pitching to get a longer-term, more-reliable upgrade.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggested earlier this month that Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller, both in the pre-arbitration stage, could be dangled in the search for Pete Kozma’s replacement. Kozma is a 25-year-old former first-round pick who fits part of Mo’s desired shortstop profile — young and controllable — but he had a brutal .652 OPS in the minors and owns a .608 OPS in 185 big league games.

The Cards have a ton of money coming off the books this winter between Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Rafael Furcal, so a big contract won’t necessarily be a roadblock. That’s why we’ve seen St. Louis involved in speculation for the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki and the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus.

The 2013 National League champs currently carry eight legitimate MLB starters in Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly, Jaime Garcia, Trevor Rosenthal, Miller and Lynn.

Cardinals want Chris Carpenter to take a front office role

2013 World Series Media Day

Chris Carpenter previously announced that he’s retiring due to injuries, but the Cardinals want the former Cy Young winner to stick around in the organization.

General manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s asked Carpenter to take a front office role or another role elsewhere in the organization:

I don’t want to … guess what he was trying to tell me or read the tea leaves. In time, we’ll all sit down and talk.

Carpenter is only 38 years old, but hasn’t been healthy and effective since 2011 due to nerve problems in his shoulder. He’s one of the most popular players in team history, so sticking around makes sense if he’s interested.

Cardinals could trade Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller this offseason for a new shortstop

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Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch speculates on a possible offseason trade:

With Carlos Martinez meriting a look-see as a starter — and [Trevor] Rosenthal wanting the same — it’s increasingly likely that general manager John Mozeliak shops Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller to simultaneously create an opening while addressing a core need at shortstop.

Pete Kozma served as the Cardinals’ primary shortstop in 2013 and posted a hideous .217/.275/.273 batting line in 143 games. Daniel Descalso also saw time at short this year in St. Louis, but he’s only marginally better on offense than Kozma and a significant downgrade defensively. The Cards have another internal option in 25-year-old former fifth-round pick Ryan Jackson, who spent the year at Triple-A Memphis, but the major league projections for him aren’t great.

With an abundance of legitimate MLB starters — think Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly, Miller, Lynn, Martinez and Rosenthal — and a ton of money coming off the books between Carlos Beltran, Jake Westbrook, Rafael Furcal and Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals are set up well to make a splash.

Lynn, 26, has a 3.82 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 in 412 1/3 major league innings. He will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next offseason. Miller, 23, owns a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 8.9 K/9 through his first 187 major league innings. He won’t reach salary arbitration until 2016. They’re both excellent trade chips.