"One of the things we're doing internally is trying to get a feel for the supply and the demand of shortstops in this market. David probably is doing the same."
The Chicago White Sox, thought to be interested in Eckstein, acquired Orlando Cabrera from the Angels. Detroit traded for Edgar Renteria. San Francisco will bring back Omar Vizquel. Tampa Bay might be interested in a veteran shortstop although Eckstein has had back issues the past couple of seasons, notably last year.
Eckstein is the lone free agent shortstop who was a regular last year. Cesar Izturis played with both the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh, but the Pirates didn't pick up a $5.8 million option for Izturis.
Eckstein, the 2006 World Series Most Valuable Player, will be 33 in January. He finished up a $10.5 million, three-year contract this year.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--LHP Mark Mulder, who had another shoulder surgery last September, visited St. Louis to meet with Dr. George Paletta and athletic trainer Barry Weinberg, and everyone came away satisfied.
General manager John Mozeliak said the outlook was "very positive" and that Mulder, who missed most of last season, would start throwing again in January. He is expected to be throwing off a mound at the beginning of spring training.
--Free agent C Jason LaRue signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Cardinals, giving the team a veteran backup to Yadier Molina. LaRue had a miserable season with Kansas City in 2007, hitting .143 with four homers and 13 RBI in 66 games.
--RHP Brian Falkenborg and Andy Cavazos, who pitched briefly for the Cardinals this year, were released. Falkenborg was 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in 18 2/3 innings, while Cavazos had no record and a 10.35 ERA in 20 innings. St. Louis added INF Jarrett Hoffpauir and four right-handed pitchers -- Mark Worrell, Mike Parisi, Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte -- to the 40-man roster.
--Free agent RHPs John Wasdin and Dewon Brazelton signed minor league deals with St. Louis. Wasdin went 1-1 with a 5.95 ERA in 12 games for the Pirates this year. Brazelton split the year between the Pirates' Class AA affiliate and the Royals' Class AAA team, never reaching the majors. He last pitched in the big leagues for San Diego in 2006, going 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in nine appearances.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Tony La Russa will start his 13th consecutive season as Cardinals manager, which would break the record of 12 held by La Russa and Red Schoendienst (1965-76).