Mozeliak weighs in on free agents, OF roles

Team president discusses offseason plans in end-of-year press conference

Mozeliak weighs in on free agents, OF roles

ST. LOUIS -- President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday that the Cardinals are still weighing whether to offer Lance Lynn a qualifying offer at the conclusion of the World Series.

The value of the one-year qualifying offer this offseason is set around $18.1 million, and it is binding if a player accepts. That will factor into the Cardinals' calculations. Should the Cardinals make the offer and have it rejected by Lynn, they would receive a compensatory pick in the 2018 MLB Draft after the Competitive Balance Round B.

The qualifying offer process was altered in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, leaving clubs like the Cardinals who receive no revenue sharing getting a lower compensatory pick than they once did when a qualifying offer was rejected.

"It's different math for sure," Mozeliak said. "It's not quite as exciting as it once was. Again, given every opportunity that we can to take advantage of, it's something that we have to weigh in and ultimately make that decision."

Players made qualifying offers will have 10 days to accept or decline.

Fowler's fit

During Tuesday's end-of-season press conference, Mozeliak skirted around speaking in absolutes on most topics, including when he was asked whether Dexter Fowler will return as the team's starting center fielder.

Signed to a five-year, $82.5-million contract last offseason to fill a hole in center, Fowler started 109 games in that spot this season. Injuries precluded him from being on the field more.

The metrics, however, weren't so kind to his performance there. Of the 17 players to log at least 900 innings in center field, Fowler ranked 16th with negative-18 Defensive Runs Saved and 15th with an Ultimate Zone Rating of -5.9.

He was hampered by injuries that affected his mobility, so that may explain some of the drop-off coming off a 2016 season in which he posted a DRS of plus-1. But the Cardinals also have a collection of center fielders -- Tommy Pham, Harrison Bader, Randal Grichuk and Magneuris Sierra -- who were on the big-league club this year and could factor into the plans next season.

So could that prompt a move to a corner spot for Fowler?

"I think that's something over the next few weeks we'll discuss," Mozeliak said. "There's no doubt, when you look at our outfield possibilities, we certainly have some flexibility. So I think once the dust settles, we'll take a few days to breathe and then we'll work through how we think we can optimize this current roster for next year, and then know how best to augment it as we go forward."

Matheny on team chemistry

Worth noting

• The Cardinals are likely to add a second Dominican Summer League team, Mozeliak said, in order to have more room to accommodate the players the organization is signing out of Latin America. Six clubs, including the Cubs and Dodgers, already have multiple teams.

• Mozeliak has met with Chris Carpenter to discuss the possibility of the former Cy Young Award winner returning to the organization in a roving or part-time role. Mozeliak said Carpenter's fit would likely be in a "hybrid-type job" given that Carpenter is not ready to commit to a full-time position.

• Before free agency opens in November, the Cardinals will be making several changes to their 40-man roster. Their four free agents -- Lynn, Juan Nicasio, Seung Hwan Oh and Zach Duke -- will drop off, while two players currently on the 60-man disabled list -- Alex Reyes and Trevor Rosenthal -- will need to go on.

Clearing spots for free-agent and trade acquisitions is a necessity, but the club is also planning ahead for which prospects they'll want to protect in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.