The Cardinals end-of-season press conference is taking place Tuesday, and from it came some news regarding the future for the leadership of the organization.
The Cardinals announced contract extensions for President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, General Manager Mike Girsch and field manager Mike Shildt. The extension for Mozeliak will keep him under contract with the team through 2023, while contracts for Shildt and Girsch now run through 2022.
During the presser, Girsch also confirmed everyone that finished the season on Shildt's major league coaching staff would be returning for the 2020 season.
With the news out of the way, Mozeliak, Girsch and team president Bill DeWitt Jr. answered questions regarding the teams plans for the offseason.
Though there would seem to be an opportunity for the Cardinals to make a splash to add to the lineup through free agency or the trade market this winter after the offense sputtered considerably in the NLCS loss to the Nationals, John Mozeliak seemed to indicate Tuesday that St. Louis' roster to begin next season could end up looking rather similar to the one that finished 2019.
Anthony Rendon is a free-agent third baseman who slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs for the World Series champion Nationals. He would seem to be a fit for what the Cardinals need given the struggles of Matt Carpenter in 2019, but the way team leadership spoke Tuesday didn't lend itself to the anticipation of such a heavy-handed pursuit.
"Are there additions that we could look at? I think it's a bit premature to say yes or no on that," Mozeliak said. "We're going to obviously see how the market shakes out and what opportunities might present itself. But overall, we feel like we have a really good team, but a team that could actually perform better from an offensive standpoint."
One player for which Mozeliak seems to be banking on that improvement offensively is Matt Carpenter.
Saying he met with Carpenter over coffee before the longtime Cardinal went home for the offseason, Mozeliak expressed confidence in the veteran third baseman moving forward.
"Obviously he wasn't pleased with the year he had," Mozeliak said of Carpenter. "He had much higher expectations. He's going to spend his offseason preparing and trying to do some things to help really change that trajectory. In terms of my confidence or our confidence in him, it's high.
"You look at where he was a year ago to what happened this past year, we're going to look at that as an outlier. Our expectations for him next season is to be a contributing member in that order, and I know he wants to do everything he can to be a part of that."
Before this past season, the Cardinals gave Carpenter a $37 million contract extension that guaranteed his salaries for 2020 and 2021. Had the Cardinals simply waited things out with Carpenter, they would have been in a position this month to either accept or decline a $20 million option for Carpenter for 2020.
It's difficult to imagine, given his .226/.334/.392 batting line in 2019, that Carpenter could have commanded such a salary for 2020 under those circumstances. The Cardinals theoretically could have negotiated a shorter contract with Carpenter as he attempted to have a bounceback season, similar to what they did successfully with Adam Wainwright this season. Instead, Carpenter is locked into $18.5 million for both 2020 and 2021, with a $2 million buyout for an option year in 2022.
As for the Cardinals marquee outgoing free agent this winter, Marcell Ozuna, John Mozeliak said Tuesday he would touch base with Ozuna's agent before the GM Meetings next week, but that he doesn't know what a long-term contract with Ozuna might look like. It's safe to say such an outcome is unlikely to occur with Ozuna and St. Louis.