ATLANTA -- Though seemingly willing to part with highly coveted prospects should he be able to get an impact player in return, general manager John Mozeliak noted Sunday that, less than three days away from the non-waiver Trade Deadline, no deal involving the Cardinals was imminent.
In fact, one might not happen at all.
"We're probably not likely going to do much right now," Mozeliak said before the Cardinals' night game at Turner Field. "It just doesn't feel like we have anything that that's compelling. ... There's only a small group of teams willing to deal, and there might not necessarily be a fit for our organization. There will be movement. It just might not be us."
The Cardinals are still looking for starting pitching, though that market is thinned and the teams that are still selling have high asking prices. With supply and demand as it is, the value of prospects sought in return is not likely to tumble much.
Changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement have also had an effect on the market's saturation of talent and appeal. Beginning last year, if a club made a midseason acquisition for a player set to be a free agent at the end of the season, that team was no longer in line to receive a compensation Draft pick if the player departed. As a result, teams are wary of giving up too much for a mere two-month rental.
Also, the addition of a second Wild Card team has left more clubs believing they should be buyers, while decreasing the number of sellers.
"I do think it's a slow-moving market since clubs are trying to optimize their assets as best they can," Mozeliak said. "There aren't very many teams that are trying to move players. When you have so many clubs that are competitive, they have to do a lot of diligence to weigh what's best. Clearly the asks have been high."
The Cardinals are willing to pay high ... to a point. The organization has shown a willingness to trade some of its better prospects (see: Brett Wallace, 2009) in the past, but there is also an understanding of the long-term value in keeping the farm system strong. If the Cardinals were to part with any of their top prospects, they would do so only if the return is right.
That would require the Cardinals to acquire an impact player whose rights they retain past this season. Mozeliak added that the club is not looking for an "incremental" addition.
"When we do look out at the long range, the one exciting thing about the Cardinals is we've had a lot of depth and a lot of talent," Mozeliak said. "We're not looking at ways to erode that just for minimal short-term gain. ... We get the price of playing poker. We understand that if you're going to want your team to get better, there's going to be a cost."
The organization has the financial flexibility to add salary to their payroll this season and in subsequent seasons as well. That is key should the Cardinals go after someone like White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who is still due close to $5 million this year and $14.5 million in the next.
The Cardinals believe that they are approaching the Deadline from a position of strength in that they don't feel they have to do anything. Whereas the club had a glaring hole in the bullpen last season, the need to add starting pitching this year does not have to be accomplished by adding from the outside.
With Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons waiting in the Minors, the Cardinals do have some Major League-ready depth to fall back on, if needed.
Mozeliak said he would be "perfectly fine" seeing the current makeup of the club remain unchanged into August and September.
"If there are opportunities out there, you don't turn your head to it," manager Mike Matheny added. "But just to make a move to make a move, I don't think that's necessarily a healthy thing. I think we're going about it the right way."
Though Mozeliak's comments on Sunday tempered expectation of a bold moving being over the next three days, last year's lone Deadline deal by the Cardinals is a reminder that the landscape can quickly change. As late as two days out from the non-waiver deadline passed last July, Mozeliak never anticipated trading for then-Marlins reliever Edward Mujica.
As it turned out, that was the only deal the Cardinals ended up getting done.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.