Cards monitoring relief market, weighing options

Cards monitoring relief market, weighing options

MIAMI -- The relief market continues to be the area of focus for Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who has until 3 p.m. CT on Monday to determine whether there is an external fit that makes more sense than the internal options already available.

"I feel we have a couple things that we are pursuing, but I don't have a sense if any of this will pan out," Mozeliak said on Friday. "You can always find some level of an upgrade, but then you have to ask yourself the acquisition cost and what you're having to give up to get it. Is it worth it?"

Leverage is usually on the side of sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and that is no different this year. The haul of prospects that the Cubs gave up to acquire closer Aroldis Chapman earlier this week may have boosted the asking price for other relievers, too.

However, the Cardinals aren't necessarily seeking an established closer. Rather, they continue to have their sights set on adding a reliever who could complement Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton in a setup role.

In previous midseason deals for bullpen help, Mozeliak has shown a preference toward acquiring relievers that the club would retain control over beyond the rest of that particular season. The acquisition cost in those instances, though, is often higher than it would be for a pending free agent.

Speaking about the differing directions the organization could go, Mozeliak said: "I don't feel like we've identified that ideal fit for us yet."

In addition to weighing the cost of various available relievers, the Cardinals also continue to consider whether their best solution is one they already have. Though he has struggled with command and efficiency as a starter, top prospect Alex Reyes sits in Triple-A as an intriguing bullpen option.

It wouldn't be a move that goes off script for the Cardinals, either, as that's how the organization first used Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez when they were rookie pitchers. Both later transitioned smoothly into starting roles.

The Cardinals are approaching the non-waiver Trade Deadline right in the thick of the National League Wild Card race and still, in their view, within striking distance of the NL Central-leading Cubs. Their recent run of eight wins in 11 games has not, Mozeliak said, changed how the organization views its position leading up to the Deadline.

"I think it's great that we're playing better baseball," he said. "We've always felt like this club was going to be competitive. But if you're simply using the timing of the last 10 days to decide how you're going to think about the Trade Deadline, I think that might be too small of a sample size. I feel like it's a tougher club to go out and say that there's one thing that you have to do. And the fact that for the most part our team is playing better, I just think that's a great sign."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.