Mozeliak agrees to extension with Cardinals, hints at ‘change coming’ to baseball operations department

“As we were thinking of the next few years, I think it’s critical that we have a strategy in place for what that looks like,” Mozeliak said of an eventual transition of leadership within the organization.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 8:33 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2023 at 9:33 AM CST
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JUPITER, Fla. (KMOV) - As the Cardinals descend upon Jupiter, Florida this week for spring training, the club has been busy finalizing a deal with its lead baseball operations executive.

The Cardinals have agreed to a two-year contract extension with team president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. The deal will keep Mo with the Cardinals through 2025. The team announced the news Tuesday.

“I think when we get to Florida we’ll sit down and see what everybody wants to do,” Bill DeWitt Jr. said at last month’s Winter Warm-Up. “From my perspective, he’s done a great job. He’s in the top echelon of baseball people.”

DeWitt’s premonition came to fruition as the team owner sat beside Mozeliak on the patio outside the Cardinals clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium to announce the deal on Tuesday morning.

“It’s hard to win and continue to draft and develop at the same time,” DeWitt said. “Mo has created an environment and leadership with our front office from a baseball standpoint that has ensured, in my view, continued success as we move into the future.”

Mozeliak’s contract was due to expire at the end of the 2023 season, and with front office lieutenants Mike Girsch and Randy Flores under contract beyond the upcoming campaign, some speculation had arisen that Mozeliak might step aside following the season.

Obviously, Tuesday’s news puts an end to that notion as Mozeliak will continue for multiple years running the organization that has employed him since 1995.

“Longevity usually means you’re in a good spot and you created something that people feel it’s worth bringing you back for,” Mozeliak said. “I think about over my time with the Cardinals—I started at an entry-level position. And then to be sitting here next to Bill, over that time, I think it speaks volumes for the opportunities I was given and was able to take advantage of.”

Even as the immediate future of Mozeliak with the organization was confirmed, however, Tuesday’s press conference offered a glimpse into what the club might look like after his presumptive departure down the road. Mozeliak, who has guided the Cardinals as the head of baseball operations since 2007, hinted at changes on the way for the baseball operations department over the length of his contract.

“I know there’s going to be some change coming over the next few years,” Mozeliak said. “We certainly want to give individuals at the company and within the organization opportunities to grow and expand some of their roles. Over the course of the next year or so, we’ll work through all of that.”

While Mozeliak said there haven’t been any pointed internal conversations about the specifics of a succession plan, the president of baseball operations stressed the importance of open collaboration in the department as the team moves forward.

“As we were thinking of the next few years, I think it’s critical that we have a strategy in place for what that looks like,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘who’s next,’ but it gives people more expanded responsibilities in their roles. It gives them more of an opportunity to see how things are done. Perhaps the easiest way to say it is a little bit more of a look behind the curtain of what I do daily.”

The precise timing of the potential passing of the torch is unknown but Tuesday made it clear that a transition period is in the offing for the Cardinals. That Mozeliak has been afforded the opportunity to have a hand in the timing and execution of it is a rarity in an industry that doesn’t often see this type of stability.

“It’s a reflection of our relationship,” Mozeliak said. “It’s more than just 15 years but over that time we sort of understand each other. There’s an ebb and flow between us. I think back to my younger days, I used to always go in on Saturdays in the offseason. It might surprise you, but he was in Cincinnati in his office on a Saturday. I think that kind of helped us connect and grow together. We’ve experienced a lot between the two of us.

“Obviously, there have been a lot of highs and lows in this period. But I think it’s really just mutual respect. We both value stability. If he didn’t, I would have probably been long gone. But here we are. The people that we’ve worked with and associated with I think have a great appreciation for that as well... I think it’s a compliment and one that we’re both proud of.”