As Meetings end, Heyward decision looms

Outfielder reportedly close to picking team; Cards preparing if he heads elsewhere

As Meetings end, Heyward decision looms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A little after 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak stepped into a car that would shuttle him back to St. Louis following a four-day stay at the Winter Meetings.

The question was how active he'd be during that drive.

Winter Meetings highlights
Below were the biggest moves of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
12/9: D-backs acquire RHP Shelby Miller from Braves for OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair, SS Dansby Swanson.
Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker from Pirates for LHP Jon Niese.
Astros to acquire RHP Ken Giles from Phillies for RHP Vincent Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, others. Not official.
White Sox acquire IF Brett Lawrie from A's for two Minor Leaguers.
Mets to sign SS Asdrubal Cabrera to 2-year deal. Not official.
Mariners acquire 1B Adam Lind from Brewers for three Minor Leaguers.
12/8: D-backs sign 6-year deal with Zack Greinke.
Cubs sign 4-year deal with 2B Ben Zobrist.
Yankees acquire 2B Starlin Castro from Cubs for RHP Adam Warren, PTBNL.
Cubs sign 2-year deal with RHP John Lackey.
Cardinals acquire 2B Jedd Gyorko from Padres for OF Jon Jay.
12/7: Dodgers near 3-year deal with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. Not official.
Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jonathan Aro from Red Sox for RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias.
Royals sign 2-year deal with RHP Chris Young.
Hot Stove Tracker | MLB Transactions

With Thursday morning reports suggesting that outfielder Jason Heyward is nearing a decision, the Cardinals could soon learn whether they have landed their primary offseason target or will need to move on to Plan B in their Hot Stove search to upgrade the offense.

Asked if it was indicated to him that a Heyward decision was imminent, Mozeliak said: "I wouldn't know." He did note Wednesday evening, however, that he does not expect negotiations to drag on past the end of the month. Heyward, 26, is commanding a contract offer that would exceed any the Cardinals have given out before.

While there may have been no publicly tangible traction with the team's pursuit to make Heyward part of the organization's long-term core, the Cardinals spent their time at Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel trying to discern clarity in the outfield market and position themselves with appealing fallback options should Heyward sign elsewhere.

That didn't result in much roster action this week. But the foundation was set for what could be active days ahead.

"I think every team is doing the same thing we are," Mozeliak said. "You work to try to find ways to improve. Sometimes they're big steps. Sometimes they're tiny steps. But the whole evolution of an offseason is a lot like a grind. You're working your way to hopefully having something you're excited about by the time you get to Spring Training. That's not the end of opportunity, either. You have to remind yourself to just be patient."

With Thursday's Rule 5 Draft putting the bow tie on the Winter Meetings, here is a recap of how the Cardinals' week was spent and what still lies ahead:

Deals Done
The Cardinals swapped Jon Jay for Jedd Gyorko in a Tuesday trade with the Padres that addressed the club's need to add a utility infielder. San Diego included approximately $7.5 million in the deal, as well, to help offset the $32 million Gyorko is owed over the next four seasons. The right-handed hitting infielder will be used as a backup at all four infield positions, though most of his playing time is likely to come as a complement to Kolten Wong at second base.

Cards deal Jay for Gyorko

Cardinals trade Jay for Gyorko

The Cards claimed left-hander Jayson Aquino on waivers Wednesday. Aquino, who pitched in the Pittsburgh, Toronto and Cleveland organizations last season, is expected to open the season in Double-A.

Jonathan Broxton , a right-handed reliever the Cardinals initially acquired as part of a Trade Deadline deal with Milwaukee, agreed to a two-year deal with the club Thursday. CBSSports.com reports the contract is for $7.5 million and includes a full no-trade clause.

Rule 5
The Cards made their first Rule 5 pick since 2011, plucking right-hander Matthew Bowman out of the Mets' organization with the intention of giving him an opportunity to compete for a long-relief role on the Major League roster. The club lost right-hander Luis Perdomo, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization's 11th-best prospect, to the Rockies in the Draft's Major League phase. Colorado later traded him to San Diego.

Perdomo was one of eight players taken from the organization in all. RHP Jhonny Polanco (Red Sox), RHP Cory Jones (Orioles), RHP Kender Villegas (Brewers), SS Robelys Reyes (D-backs), RHP Fernando Baez (Rays), OF Mike O'Neill (Cubs) were each taken in the Triple-A phase. RHP Juan Caballero was lost in the Double-A phase.

The Cardinals added pitchers John Brebbia (D-backs) and Michael Heesch (Cubs) through the Triple-A portion.

Goals Accomplished
St. Louis filled its super utility need with the Gyorko acquisition. The trade also cleared Jay's $6.225 million salary from the books while helping lessen the team's outfield surplus.

Unfinished Business
It remains all about Heyward at the moment, as the Cardinals await his decision. With the Cubs emerging as a serious suitor for the Gold Glove outfielder, the Cards are aware that Heyward's choice could initiate a power shift in the National League Central. Whether it's Heyward or someone else, the Cardinals do intend to add an offensive piece this offseason.

The club also continues to eye available starting pitchers -- both on the free-agent and trade markets -- as well as relief help.

Bottom Line
"Not being player-specific, we have a lot of lines out there open and are going to continue to work. Obviously we're not leaving here with any free agents, quote, signed. That's not to say that over the next few days we won't be able to do that." -- Mozeliak

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.