"I wouldn't say there's any more momentum in any direction," general manager John Mozeliak said on Tuesday. "It's just become a little more clear who's real serious in this in terms of if we're trying to move our third baseman. But we're nowhere close to where we feel we're getting what we need to get to make a deal like that happen."
As baseball's annual Winter Meetings passed through their second day, Mozeliak repeatedly emphasized that he has no intention of dealing Rolen simply to get rid of him. He likewise acknowledged that at this point, he has not received an offer that he feels would provide equal value to his team.
One particular suitor, the Milwaukee Brewers, appear to have faded from the picture somewhat.
"It doesn't look like it's going to happen," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin.
Meanwhile, Mozeliak said "we're not having a meeting of the minds" with Milwaukee.
Other teams mentioned in reports in connection with Rolen include the Giants and Dodgers. However, Mozeliak said he has had no substantive conversations with San Francisco, and the Dodgers include one potentially huge roadblock. Larry Bowa, with whom Rolen feuded in Philadelphia, is on the Los Angeles coaching staff. Rolen has complete no-trade protection.
If no move is made, it could lead to a complicated situation in Spring Training. The underlying tension between Rolen and manager Tony La Russa became more public this fall. Rolen asked the club to explore trade options after La Russa was brought back for two more seasons, and Mozeliak has accommodated the request.
"I've made it very clear from Day 1 that we would be willing to explore this, but we are not in a position where we would just move him to move him," Mozeliak said. "And he and his representation understand that, and I think they respect that. The fact that we were willing to even do that, I think that meant a lot to him and his representation. But at the same time, we're not going to weaken the St. Louis Cardinals."
Rolen, however, is far from the only player about whom the Cardinals have fielded inquiries. Mozeliak referred to center field prospect Colby Rasmus as "probably one of the most asked-about players that I've ever seen," but re-emphasized the club has no interest in parting with Rasmus.
Anthony Reyes has also drawn a good bit of interest. One report suggested that St. Louis was considering a deal including Reyes and Indians left-hander Cliff Lee, but Mozeliak said of Cleveland, "I don't see a match there."
Reyes, like Rolen, has endured some level of disconnect with the coaching staff in St. Louis. But Mozeliak insisted that as with Rolen, the Cardinals are not looking to dump the right-hander, who remains promising and inexpensive.
"If we were to move him," Mozeliak said, "we would have to feel like we were addressing some need at our Major League club or giving us some substantial depth for Triple-A. So if you look at the whole free agent market right now and what's happening with starting pitching, I think it's pretty clear that it wouldn't make sense for us to do something that wouldn't be in our best interest.
"We have talked to teams about him. But I think when you try to weigh out the value, people are trying to look at how he pitched last year, and his record, and thinking they can just take advantage of that situation. And I think internally we look at him a little better than that."
More notes from day two of the meetings:
Mozeliak said he expects to have Josh Kinney as part of the team in 2008, but that it may be a couple of months into the season before the right-hander is available. Kinney is recuperating from Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2007 as well as an arm fracture he sustained during his rehab.
A leadoff hitter remains on the radar, but is a low priority for the Cardinals in Nashville.
"It's not one of our more focused issues right now," Mozeliak said.
"I did ask Tony if that's a big concern for him, and he seems to think we'll be OK. There are teams that hit somebody that might not seem like the most optimal."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.