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Cards monitoring rotation options as Deadline nears

GM Mozeliak focused more on acquiring potential depth than ace; no deals imminent

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Cards monitoring rotation options as Deadline nears

ST. LOUIS --With the non-waiver Trade Deadline nine days away, the Cardinals continue to zero in on starting pitchers who could potentially help fortify the rotation for a postseason push.

However, general manager John Mozeliak cautioned on Tuesday that no deal is imminent.

"As far as how you think about the next nine days, it's still about opportunities that may come up," Mozeliak said. "At this point, there is nothing that just jumps out that we can do. But we definitely feel we can continue to look at ways to improve.

"It's different than other years. Some years we knew exactly what we needed to go do. In this particular case, it's something where if we can find some pitching help, we'd consider it. But as you can imagine, it's not the best market to be shopping for."

Asked whether he is more focused on adding a top-of-the-rotation starter or someone who could add depth to the back end, Mozeliak pointed to the latter.

"I think we're more looking at depth," he said. "It's understanding what we feel our biggest needs are."

The Cardinals are somewhat unusual in that they are looking to add to an area that has been the team's strength all season. Entering Tuesday, the rotation ranked third in the National League with a 3.34 ERA while pacing the NL in complete games (five) and shutouts (17).

However, there are also holes. Michael Wacha, out since June with a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder, is on track to return no earlier than September. Shelby Miller, temporarily relocated to the bullpen, has taken a step back after a 15-win rookie season, and Carlos Martinez has reminded that there will be growing pains as he develops into a Major League starter.

If the Cardinals wanted to go big and add a high-end arm, it would cost them high-level talent like No. 1 prospect Oscar Taveras, often the first ask by other clubs. By targeting pitchers who could fill spots lower in a rotation, the Cardinals would take less of a personnel hit.

"It is a situation that we want to make sure that any decision that we make is, 'How is this something that can help us now but not penalize us in the future?'" Mozeliak said.

While keeping a pulse on the availability of starting pitching, the Cardinals have backed off on looking for offensive help. Not only is there no obvious position at which to plug in a new everyday player, but Mozeliak said he has been pleased with the uptick in overall production over the last three weeks.

Asked if there was interest in potentially upgrading the bench, Mozeliak said: "I think, at this point, it's probably not a necessity, but we won't rule anything out."

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.

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