ST. LOUIS — Just in case the Cardinals did not realize how difficult finding a new shortstop would be, speculation spewing from the general manager meetings in Orlando provided perhaps the most telling clues yet.
An update on the shopping list:
* Troy Tulowitzki. A high-ranking Rockies executive told mlb.com, “He’s not going anywhere.” Translation: If he is moved, the price really could be as exorbitant as Shelby Miller, Matt Adams and Trevor Rosenthal. And no, I don’t see the Cardinals doing that, either.
* J.J. Hardy. Despite a rumor that the Orioles called the Cardinals to see if they would give up Shelby Miller, Orioles GM Dan Duquette told reporters, “We are not shopping J.J. Hardy.” This wasn’t surprising because of how Hardy is viewed by the Orioles for his offense, defense and clubhouse leadership.
Even if the Orioles were to move Hardy, the Cardinals would be unlikely to move him for Miller. Hardy will be a free agent after next season, while Miller remains under club control for another five years.
* Jhonny Peralta. He is seeking a deal for way more than three years and $45 million, according to ESPN. Such terms border on absurd considering he is 31 and coming off a 50-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis. Peralta is considered below average defensively, and while he hit .303 last season in 107 games, he managed only a .239 average in 150 games in 2012.
* Stephen Drew. No numbers have been floated but you can be sure Drew is seeking more than Peralta. He’s a year younger, superior defensively, hasn’t been linked to performance-enhancing drugs and his agent is Scott Boras, who was at the GM meetings hyping his client’s case.
* Jed Lowrie. Even if he is on the block — and he’s not, A’s general manager Billy Beane told reporters — Lowrie doesn’t fit with St. Louis. While the Cardinals want more offense than Pete Kozma provided, they still value defense too much to turn the position over to Lowrie, rated as one of the game’s weakest defenders at shortstop in 2013.
Ruling out a St. Louis landing for the above shortstops makes the challenge of upgrading more difficult. But at least a couple of the top possibilities still make as much sense today as they did before the GM meetings.
* Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have said that “in an ideal situation,” their younger shortstop, Jurickson Profar, would not have to spend another season without a position. To avoid that, they could put Profar at second and move Ian Kinsler to left field, or they could send Profar back to the minors.
No wonder a trade makes sense.
* Asdrubal Cabrera. He has been linked to the Cardinals since last winter, in part because the Indians are stocked with shortstop prospects. Cabrera, 28, is a two-time All-Star and is due $10 million in the last year of a two-year contract. On the other hand, the switch-hitter’s offense has slipped for two straight years. He hit 14 homers in 2013, but his on-base percentage dropped under .300 for the first time, at .299.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak hasn’t addressed the media about the club’s off-season plans since his season wrap-up earlier this month. Mozeliak stayed in Florida after the GM meetings to attend the owners’ meetings Thursday. He could provide an update early next week, according to the club.
That is, if he has anything to update.
There were several actual moves during the GM meetings, including some with Cardinals connections:
* Bengie Molina left to become the Rangers’ first-base coach, putting the Cardinals in the market for their third assistant hitting coach in three years.
* Former pitching coach Dave Duncan accepted a position as special assistant to Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers. Duncan told the D-backs he wasn’t interested in a full-time return to coaching, but Towers was determined. According to the Arizona Republic, Towers told Duncan, “It’s pretty much, ‘Hey, you set your schedule and we’d love to have you.'”
* Former Cardinals shortstop Nick Punto landed a one-year, $3 million deal with the A’s, where he is expected to be their primary utility infielder.
Finally, the Cardinals’ most exciting development of the week came out of the Arizona Fall League. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, a first-round pick in 2012, continued his strong showing by going 4 for 5 and helping his team remain in the title chase heading into the final day of the month-long season. Don’t be surprised if Piscotty makes a lot of noise next spring.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.