ST. LOUIS – John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations, spent nearly half an hour Saturday discussing the team’s offseason and future with media members.
These are among the most notable topics Mozeliak discussed…
1. Offseason strategy
Mozeliak reiterated that adding a catcher was a top priority, but he has fallen short on some other goals as spring training nears. The Cardinals wanted to add a left-handed bat, but the roster competition might have made a fit difficult. He adds St. Louis wasn’t “all that active” in the free agent market for a shortstop or starting pitcher.
“Our hope is that we are right, and it won’t be something we regret. It was a really busy [offseason] in terms of effort, but the return is what it is.”
2. Holliday’s departure
Matt Holliday stepped down from a bench coach role with the St. Louis Cardinals for the upcoming season, nearly two months after he agreed to take on the position. Mozeliak said Holliday and he first discussed this last Saturday. He
“I’ve known Matt a long time, the utmost respect for him. When you find out someone is stepping down from your coaching staff, candidly it’s not ideal.”
Joe McEwing, a 1990s utility infielder and longtime White Sox coach, will inherit the position. Mozeliak says, “Anyone who knows him or has been around him, he really does exemplify what the Cardinals stand for. I’m thrilled we can end up with Joe given the short notice.”
3. Payroll increase
Throughout the winter months, Mozeliak has reiterated the Cardinals would increase payroll. After seven Cardinals reached deals Friday to avoid arbitration, the Cardinals added around $16 million in salary from last year among those players and stand around $166 million in payroll.
That said, the Cardinals have only made one long-term free agent offseason signing in catcher Willson Contreras. Mozeliak, acknowledging some relatively quiet months, has offered this explanation as to why an increase in payroll doesn’t always mean signing several new players.
“Do we have bandwith to still add to this club throughout the year? Yes, we do. Is the market something that had an adverse effect to us spending? Of course. The way we operate, we’re going to invest in what we think are smart investments. … You’re not going to do something just to just do something. You’re not going to just spend to spend. … If we didn’t like our team, we would be making adjustments. But resources that are available today and resources moving forward are definitely [pricier] than what they were in 2021, 2020 and 2019.”
4. Post-2023 Rotation
Three contract years and an upcoming farewell season for Adam Wainwright loom ahead for the Cardinals rotation. Among the group who could become free agents in 2023 (Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery), the Cardinals have yet to discuss extensions with any of them this offseason.
“You like to have some certainty as you think about that longview. It does create some opportunity for us. We’re not going to rule out any future contract extension talks. … As we approach spring training, we’ll certainly revisit it.”
5. Mozeliak’s future
After decades of experience in the Cardinals organization, Mozeliak’s contract for his current front office role expires after 2023. He has talked with Cardinals Preisdent Bill Dewitt III about the situation, but he doesn’t want it to be a distraction as the season unfolds.
“We haven’t made any determination. We’re going to continue to talk about that. When I look at 2023, I’m not overly focused on my contract or what 2024 looks like yet. … I understand the importance of the St. Louis Cardinals. In terms of how Mr. Dewitt and I work through things, we have time. … I don’t want to be a distraction, first and foremost, and most importantly, I’m just looking forward to the season.”