The Rumor Mill – January 26

Checking in on three unresolved situations – Jim Edmonds, Mark Mulder and Jason Marquis.

Just because there is little news about the Cardinals in the mainstream press, does not mean there is no activity. Yet, sharing these rumors come with the usual disclaimer that none of this is assured and a reminder that situations can change at a moment's notice.

Jim Edmonds – Quiet exploration

As reported earlier, the Cardinals seem to quietly be looking at what options they might have to trade Edmonds. Apparently, the teams that have shown the most interest are among those teams that Edmonds had previously singled out on his no-trade list prior to becoming a ten-and-five man.

Of course, at this point, Edmonds cannot be traded anywhere without his consent, anyway. But, those specific teams being interested in him may make matters more difficult in potentially convincing Edmonds to consider going there.

While that could obviously become a problem, the Cardinals apparently feel they can work through it if necessary. Certainly, if nothing else, the timing of the discussion of a trade may provide a convenient lever to encourage good-faith negotiations on him remaining a Cardinal.

In fact, the Cardinals may be inclined to keep Edmonds if they can get a restructured contract done. It would be a two-year deal with an option year; at least that is the current direction of the negotiations, I am told. See my earlier story, Edmonds: The Unthinkable or the Chipper? for an example of the possible construct of the proposal.

Mark Mulder – Early probe

I understand that the Cardinals and Mulder's representatives have had very preliminary discussions about an extension. If the Cardinals continue to move forward on this, something could get done in Spring Training or by the first of the season.

The Cardinals will seemingly expect Mulder to take a "Cardinals discount" at least in how any deal would be structured. As is typical of the team's offers in the Jocketty era, the contract would be back-loaded, perhaps starting at $7 million in 2007 to remain in concert with the "Carpenter Rule" and escalating from there.

They may be thinking of a contract similar to what they offered Burnett, four years, $40 million, as that is the new benchmark that has been established, according to Mulder's camp.

Given the market for pitching, even with a home team discount, I think it will take more than $10 million per year to eventually land Mulder. Whether the Cardinals will go there and if so, when, remains the open question.

Jason Marquis – Still in play

In recent days, the Cardinals reportedly have had exploratory trade discussions with the Nationals, Indians, Reds, Yankees, and Phillies regarding Marquis. In doing so, the Cardinals are likely trying to determine what possibilities exist in case they decide to move on a trade during Spring Training. Still, a trade should not be assumed.

The odds of Marquis being dealt will improve substantially if Sidney Ponson and Anthony Reyes prove they are ready to assume the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation. Adam Wainwright being deemed ready to be the #6 guy while pitching in Memphis would make matters even easier.

Another reason the Cardinals are waiting is that they are uncertain as to what their greatest needs are at this point and want to evaluate their situation during Spring Training.

Given everything, I believe the one year deal to which Marquis agreed in order to avoid arbitration will be his final contract as a Cardinal. Furthermore, I think there is a decent chance that Marquis will not begin the 2006 regular season wearing a Cardinals uniform.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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