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Cards nab Penny, no closer to Holliday

Cards nab Penny, no closer to Holliday

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals finalized their deal with Brad Penny on Tuesday while moving toward getting a better understanding of some of their other options in the free-agent market. However, 48 hours after meeting with agent Scott Boras, the Redbirds aren't any closer to a resolution regarding star outfielder Matt Holliday.

At his evening media session with reporters, general manager John Mozeliak made the announcement that the contract with Penny, which was agreed to on Monday, had been completed. Penny passed a physical in St. Louis and signed a pact that is worth $7.5 million guaranteed. Incentives could take the total value of the contract up to $9 million.

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In addition, the Cardinals agreed that if Penny is a Type A free agent after the 2010 season, they will not offer him arbitration.

"Since the first day I saw him pitch for the Marlins, he was a guy that came on the radar for [pitching coach] Dave Duncan and myself, from Day 1," manager Tony La Russa said. "When I saw that he might be moved by the Marlins we were interested, and since then he's gone a couple places. We were always trying to make what happened today happen. We just like all he brings to a team as far as getting guys out."

Beyond Penny, the Cardinals are keeping their options open. Priority one remains Holliday, but Mozeliak said he had no clearer understanding of that situation than he did a day earlier. He said the Cardinals have a "pretty good idea" of the "framework" of what Boras is seeking for his star client. But there has been no advancement in the negotiations since a Sunday night meeting between the two sides.

Still, the Cardinals insist they not be counted out in the sweepstakes.

"We rarely get mentioned as one of the teams with a chance to sign him," La Russa said, "but we refuse to believe that. I think we've got a legitimate shot."

In the interim, St. Louis has looked into other options to fill out its roster. The Cardinals have interest in adding at least one hitter if Holliday does not re-sign, and in that case they might also bring in an additional starting pitcher. They may add some depth to their starting corps regardless, but in the absence of Holliday, they would aim a little higher.

"If we're not going to engage in the Holliday [deal], then it allows you to still explore maybe a different level [of starting pitcher]," Mozeliak said.

Mozeliak expressed some hesitation regarding Jaime Garcia, who appears to be the favorite if the Redbirds stay in-house for their fifth starter. The club is very high on Garcia's ability, but he made only a few starts in 2009 as he recovered from elbow surgery.

"We're comfortable if we had to go into spring with the four we have plus Jaime," Mozeliak said. "But obviously if you look at how much Jaime's thrown over the last two years, it's a big challenge for him even in the fifth spot. So it does make some sense for us to look at depth there. And that depth could come in many different shapes and sizes, and we're going to explore all those."

The Cardinals remain extremely reluctant to sign any starter to a contract of longer than one year. That rules out John Lackey, who Mozeliak said does not figure at all into the club's plans. It likely doesn't rule out John Smoltz, who is at least somewhat on the club's radar. The Cardinals met with the agents for Smoltz and Mark DeRosa on Tuesday.

Agents remain the primary guests of the Cardinals as the meetings grind on. Mozeliak said he has little reason to think the Cardinals will execute any trades before the week is out.

On the offensive side, several players remain in play for the Cardinals, DeRosa among them. La Russa also expressed an interest in free-agent infielder Miguel Tejada. Late of the Astros, Tejada has mostly played shortstop, but the Cardinals would use him as a third baseman.

"Miguel is an interesting guy," La Russa said. "Because of [being with] the A's years ago, I've known him forever. ... I know exactly the kind of player that he has become. I know he has a relationship with a couple of our guys. Yeah, we've talked about Miguel."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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