NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak acknowledged Monday night that he could be forced to act fast if he wants to land one of the available free agent left-handed relievers.
Finding a lefty reliever is at the top of the Cardinals priority list as the baseball world gathers this week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort for the winter meetings.
And negotiations between teams and agents regarding lefty relievers appear to be gaining steam.
“Clearly the market is moving a little bit and how you adjust is obviously critical if you’re going to get deals done,” Mozeliak said. “We’re aware of it, we recognize it. I think as the next few days unfold, we’ll see if we can be players in that.
“I do think from a free agent standpoint, yes, we are hopeful to understand where we are. I do think most of these guys will likely be signed by the time this week ends.”
The price for a quality left is not cheap. The Giants re-signed lefty Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year, $18 million deal while the top available left-hander, Sean Burnett, declined a $3.5 million option to return to Washington and became a free agent.
Burnett, who posted a 2.38 ERA in 70 games with the Nationals last year, has held left-handed batters to a .225 average in eight big league seasons. He allowed just one home run and five extra-base hits in 90 at-bats against left-handed hitters last season.
Multiple reports Monday said the Cardinals were one of eight teams interested in Burnett. Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported Burnett was seeking a four-year deal, which could be a deal-breaker for some clubs.
Asked about the length of deals being an issue when negotiating with lefty relievers, Mozeliak said only, “I think we always prefer shorter than longer, but right now it’s still a little bit too early to determine that.”
Other left-handed relief options for the Cardinals include Mike Gonzalez, Randy Choate, J.P. Howell, Manny Parra and Joe Beimel. Left-hander Bill Bray, who spent six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, signed a deal Monday with the Nationals.