ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday that he has fielded calls on starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, but emphasized that he is not shopping either right-hander.
That contradicts reports that the Cardinals are trying to move a starter in order to clear payroll room for another move. Mozeliak said he has not contacted either Lohse or Westbrook, both of whom have blanket no-trade protection, about the rumors.
"The appropriate response is eventually, yes, I will speak to them and let them know what's going on," Mozeliak said. "But I haven't. I haven't had the time today. But I will. And part of it is because I don't anticipate anything really happening."
The Cardinals have five starting pitchers under contract for 2012: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook. Multiple reports have linked them with Mark Buehrle, a St. Louis-area native who has repeatedly expressed a desire to pitch for the Cards at some point.
A long-term deal with Buehrle or any starter would be difficult for the Cardinals to swallow, though. Mozeliak emphasized that even if the Cardinals were to move Lohse or Westbrook, they would not fill that hole with a free agent.
"I'm not going to comment on specific free agents, but the bottom line is right now we're comfortable with our five, and if we were to create a spot, I think we internally would address it," he said. "Internally, we have two guys on our Major League roster right now, [Marc] Rzepczynski and [Lance] Lynn, who could possibly start. And then in our farm system, we have guys coming. So trying to sign somebody long-term we just don't feel is in our best interest."
The Cardinals' top prospect is right-hander Shelby Miller, who finished 2011 at Double-A. Righty Carlos Martinez may well be their second-best prospect, and he has reached high Class A. The club has little interest in blocking those pitchers, or Lynn for that matter. Lynn currently projects to pitch in relief in 2012, but his future is believed to be as a starter.
Instead, in the event that the club received an enticing offer for Lohse or Westbrook -- and could get around the no-trade protection, which is far from a guarantee -- it would look elsewhere with the increased financial flexibility.
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.