Mozeliak: Descalso unlikely to return, plus other Hot Stove notes

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak speaks to bloggers on June 22 at the annual United Cardinal Bloggers Event. (By Cole Claybourn)

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak speaks to bloggers on June 22 at the annual United Cardinal Bloggers Event. (By Cole Claybourn)

St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak told KMOX on Wednesday night that he doesn’t expect infielder Daniel Descalso to return to the Cardinals next season.

“I would imagine Danny is going to want to move on,” Mozeliak said. “We may have to make a hard decision on that one.”

Mozeliak cited the play of second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Jhonny Peralta as reasons why the veteran utility infielder would struggle to see much playing time, and that he’d work with Descalso on making a trade to help land him somewhere.

What it sounds like is that Descalso is likely a non-tender candidate, meaning they would decline to offer him arbitration and make him a free agent. It sounds like a mutual decision to part ways.

Descalso appeared in 104 games in 2014, the lowest of his career aside from the 11 appearances when he first broke into the league in 2007. The 27 year old logged just 161 at-bats in 2014 after averaging 343 the previous three seasons. He tallied just 10 RBIs in 2014.

Mozeliak discussed several other offseason nuggets during his 15 minute interview with KMOX. In it, he said free agents Mark Ellis and A.J. Pierzynski, both 37, are two players the Cardinals won’t pursue this offseason, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Pierzynski served as a nice stopgap option during Yadier Molina’s injury and was an even better addition in the clubhouse. But frankly, he’s nothing more than a spare part and is not an essential piece moving forward. The same can be said about Ellis, who appeared in 73 games due to nagging injuries and recorded a career-low 32 hits.

The Cardinals will likely go with Tony Cruz as the backup catcher over Pierzynski and have plenty of infield depth to replace the oft-injured Ellis.

As for reliever Jason Motte, Mozeliak said it’s likely he’ll want to seek another opportunity where he can pitch in the 9th inning. With Trevor Rosenthal solidifying that role, Motte’s role in the Cardinals bullpen became obsolete in 2014 after he came back from Tommy John surgery. After missing all of 2013, Motte appeared in just 29 games in 2014 and had an ERA of 4.68 and gave up seven home runs in just 25 innings pitched. He gave up 16 total in the previous three seasons combined, including nine in his previous full season of 2012 in which he made appearances.

On top of that, he struggled at times to retain the velocity he had been known to have and was never used in high-leverage situations. With the pitching depth in the Cardinals farm system, it’s understandable why the Cardinals would elect not to pursue him going forward.

It’s a little trickier with reliever Pat Neshek, who had a career season in 2014 that also included an All-Star selection. He appeared in 71 games, just three shy of his career high, and logged a career-high six saves to go with a 1.87 ERA, 2.37 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and just four home runs allowed. The Cardinals could possibly want him back, but it’s also possible that his 2014 production might out-price what the Cardinals would be willing to pay for a 7th-8th inning guy.

“I’m sure (Neshek) is exploring the market right now,” Mozeliak told KMOX. “I certainly think we need to add, but I’m not sure if we can find him a happy place.”

As for what the bullpen may look like, Mozeliak said he expects right-hander Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales to be in the bullpen. That leaves a rotation of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, John Lackey, Shelby Miller, barring any offseason trades.

“It’s going to be tough for those guys (Martinez and Gonzales) to break into the starting rotation,” he said. “But as I’ve learned, you can never have enough depth.”

And yes, that means he expects Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright to be healthy by Spring Training.

“Wacha is going to have a great offseason,” Mozeliak said. “He’s in a great spot. His end-of-the-year MRI came back clean.”

“Everything we have heard from Wainwright is business as usual.”

The GM meetings is usually where the first bits of Hot Stove action occur each offseason, and we’ve seen that a little bit with Michael Cuddyer signing with the Mets. But for the most part things have been slow, Mozeliak said.

That’s especially true for the Cardinals, however Mozeliak remarked that conversations with and about players are much different than he envisioned they would be near the end of the season. Outfielder Oscar Taveras’ tragic death has forced Mozeliak to look at outfielders this offseason, something that wasn’t in the original plan.

“The work we are doing now is laying ground work for future decisions,” he said. “We could see some things happening as early as Thanksgiving.”

 

 

Follow Cole Claybourn @HighSock_Sunday or reach him by email at highsocksunday@gmail.com.

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