Patience and prudence are fundamental to Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty's mode of operation. This usually keeps him from making big free-agent signing splashes, but it doesn't mean he and his braintrust are sitting back doing nothing.
As always, what follows are rumors, not fact. We didn't make these up, however. Consider them possibilities the Cardinals are considering, but don't be disappointed if some or all do not come to pass.
Jeff Suppan (Type A free agent) – in play
Word is the San Francisco Giants want him, I guess to be a bookend with Matt Morris, who they plucked last season under comparable circumstances. The Astros have been aggressive in this off-season so far and the signing of Woody Williams demonstrates they are not waiting to see how long Roger Clemens and his buddy Andy Pettitte can wait to make up their minds about 2007. My sources tell me that Houston is among the other organizations that have discussed a deal with Suppan's representatives.
At this point, his return to St. Louis seems unlikely.
Mark Mulder (Type B) – still a chance
The Cardinals definitely want a left-hander in their 2007 rotation. At this point, despite significant interest being expressed in Mulder by other clubs, the Cardinals apparently haven't ruled out his return. But, filling this roster position could also be the prime target of a trade.
Ron Belliard (Type A)/Adam Kennedy (Type B) – one or the other?
An offer has reportedly been made to both the Cardinals' incumbent second baseman as well as the Angels' free agent Adam Kennedy. A tactic the Cardinals have used in the past is apparently being employed here in which both free agents are given offers and told the first one to accept gets the deal while the other loses out.
It remains to be seen whether this ploy will set the hook with either. Our rumor man HawgWild has heard the offer to Kennedy is in the $3.5 million range and believes that he is close to signing. There is some sentiment that Belliard has priced himself beyond the Cardinals means and could end up with the Mets instead.
Adam Eaton (Type C) – an aggressive offer?
To date, the consensus has been that Eaton will sign with the Mariners, in part because he hails from the Seattle area. However, as recently as yesterday, the Seattle Times noted Eaton has received an "aggressive bid" from a winning organization. We believe that to be a direct reference to the Cardinals. It is not known whether Seattle will be given the opportunity to match or better the offer, however, reported to be in the three year, $24 million range. A fourth year may be required to seal any deal.
Jeff Weaver (Type B) – no progress
Especially if the Cardinals land Eaton, their other right-handed starter will likely be someone whose salary is lower than the current market. The other remaining in-house option remains Weaver. The Cards reportedly would still like to bring Weaver back but have not made progress with agent Scott Boras on the amount guaranteed and available to earn via incentive.
Juan Encarnacion – can be had
The Cardinals apparently are motivated to move the disgruntled outfielder, but will likely have to include him in a package deal that another club is motivated to take.
Other quick hits
Other free agent names we've previously mentioned here, Tomo Ohka (Type B) and Kip Wells (no compensation), remain on the radar screen. It is unclear whether mutual interest was shown when the Cardinals inquired about trades for players like Rodrigo Lopez of the Orioles, Jason Jennings in Colorado and Mike Gonzalez from Pittsburgh. Getting the latter, a closer in whom the Cardinals have been interested for some time, would seemingly allow Adam Wainwright to slide into the 2007 rotation.
HawgWild's quick hits
- The Cards have inquired about Tim Hudson from the Braves.
- They are still very interested in former Houston and Oakland closer Octavio Dotel (no compensation).
- Jason Schmidt (Type A) should get the Cards' final proposal soon.
- Many people in baseball think the Carlos Lee contract (six years, $100 million with Houston) is ludicrous. Makes Encarnacion look like a bargain.
Stay tuned for more rumors as this most interesting off-season continues for the defending World Champions.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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