ST. LOUIS -- A year later, Jim Edmonds made good on his offer.
Edmonds agreed on Friday to a Minor League deal with the Cardinals that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. He will report to Jupiter, Fla., to wear the "birds on the bat" for the first time since 2007. A franchise icon, Edmonds has played for the Padres, Cubs, Brewers and Reds since he was traded away from St. Louis following the 2007 season.
In January of last year, after he sat out the entire 2009 season, Edmonds took the stage at a benefit for Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation and offered to play for the Cardinals for the Major League minimum salary. He signed with Milwaukee instead, and was later traded to Cincinnati.
Now he's back with the Cardinals for a return engagement, though it's not entirely clear where he fits. Edmonds played almost no center field in 2010. The Cards are set in left field with Matt Holliday, and in right field they have Lance Berkman -- who would likely benefit from days off but is a switch-hitter who is much more effective from the left side. Edmonds is a left-handed hitter.
"Obviously he has the talent to play anywhere in the outfield," general manager John Mozeliak said Friday. "I think really at this point where he fits in and how this works out is really unknown. We just have to see where he is physically. When we get down there we'll make that decision. Obviously I think this really came down to knowing that there's potential for him to help the club, but also given his history with this organization, [it was a good idea]."
This much is clear: Edmonds can still hit. He batted a combined .276 in 2010 with a .342 on-base percentage and a .504 slugging percentage. He hit 11 home runs in 246 at-bats. His physical condition is less known, though. Edmonds dealt with an Achilles' tendon injury at the end of last season, and Mozeliak acknowledged that the Cardinals haven't actually seen him work out yet this winter.
"Clearly that's going to have to take place here in the next 10 days or so," he said "It is a legitimate question."
In eight years as a Cardinal, Edmonds established himself as one of the franchise's greats. He hit 241 home runs in St. Louis, made three All-Star teams and won six Gold Gloves while he was in St. Louis.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.