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

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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.

Carlos Martínez to pitch out of bullpen upon return from injured list

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Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said pitcher Carlos Martínez will work out of the bullpen when he returns from the injured list, The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reports. Shildt noted that the decision is based on Martínez’s needs rather than the team’s needs, which suggests he may not yet have the strength to pitch as a starter.

Martínez, 27, opened the season on the injured list due to a right rotator cuff strain. The right-hander was also injured last year, battling lat and oblique injuries. He will go to extended spring training and likely begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Based on that time frame, Martínez should be activated around mid-May.

Last year, Martínez made 18 starts and 15 relief appearances, posting a 3.11 ERA with five saves and a 117/60 K/BB ratio across 118 2/3 innings. It is unclear what role(s) Martínez will have in the bullpen, but he could eventually help set up for closer Jordan Hicks.