Now that David Freese is gone, I assume Matt Carpenter will go to third base? With that said, is Robinson Cano on the list of players for the Cardinals to possibly pick up?
-- Barry C., Sikeston, Mo.
Yes, Freese's departure will initiate Carpenter's return to third base, which is his natural position. It also opens second base up as a spot for Kolten Wong, who the Cardinals believe is ready to provide everyday production. General manager John Mozeliak noted Friday that the club may still go after an infielder who would add to the second-base competition. But there's no reason to think that will be Cano, whose asking price remains quite excessive (well over $200 million).
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If the club does not sign Carlos Beltran back, do you see Oscar Taveras starting in the outfield on Opening Day? If so, what will they do with Allen Craig, Matt Adams and Jon Jay?
-- Jordan S., Richfield, N.C.
For those still holding out hope that Beltran returns, you best start trying to move on. With the number of teams showing interest in Beltran this winter, he looks to have a strong chance at garnering the three-year deal he desires. The Cardinals do not want to make that sort of commitment, nor do they feel they need to with their depth.
Three months out from Spring Training, how the Cardinals will ultimately put together their player puzzle remains fuzzy. The addition of Peter Bourjos on Friday adds another outfielder to the mix -- and one who, right now, is the favorite to win the center-field job. The Cardinals will also consider Taveras' fit in center field, but now he seems more likely to land in right. That would, of course, have implications on where Craig and Adams land.
That much of this is in flux is OK for the Cardinals, who are simply thrilled to have flexibility. How Taveras fares in Spring Training could dictate several position decisions.
How does the bullpen (other than closer) project for next season? Any chance John Axford is brought back?
-- George B., Cuba, Mo.
While Trevor Rosenthal projects to be the closer, Jason Motte is on track to return shortly after the start of the 2014 season. He will give the Cardinals another late-inning option. The bullpen will include lefties Kevin Siegrist and Randy Choate, both of whom have proven capable of pitching in setup situations. Seth Maness, the Cardinals' ground-ball guy of 2013, returns, too.
If the Cardinals do not thin out their starting pitching depth through offseason trades, the club will have more starters than rotation spots. That could push one or two starters -- someone like Carlos Martinez and/or Joe Kelly -- into the bullpen, at least temporarily. Sam Freeman, who put together a solid 2013 season, should also get a strong look for a bullpen job.
The Cardinals are expected to non-tender Axford before Monday's deadline, but they have not ruled out still trying to re-sign him. Axford would have to accept significantly less than the $5 million he earned this year to be the right fit for St. Louis.
Since it's time to discuss contracts and free agency, what about Mozeliak? I think he's one of the biggest contributors to the Cardinals' success over the past few years. How long is his contract? Is there any chance of losing him?
-- Bill W., Allen Park, Mich.
Back in Spring Training, the Cardinals extended Mozeliak through 2016. Mozeliak, who has been the organization's GM since 2008 and a member of the organization since 1995, is not going anywhere. This marked the fourth season that the Cardinals have advanced to the postseason since Mozeliak took over for Walt Jocketty. Interestingly, with Mike Matheny's recent contract extension, he is now signed a year longer than Mozeliak.