Cards want Wacha to solidify rotation spot

Offseason decisions upcoming regarding Moss, Garcia

Cards want Wacha to solidify rotation spot

ST. LOUIS -- Despite questions about how a recurring stress reaction right shoulder injury might restrict Michael Wacha from carrying a starting pitcher's workload in the future, general manager John Mozeliak confirmed on Wednesday that the organization still views him as a starter heading into 2017.

Wacha headed to his home in Texas with a revised offseason workout plan, which will focus heavily on adding muscle to his upper body. The Cardinals believe that will reduce durability concerns and better protect his shoulder from additional structural issues.

"As he came into the league, you could almost envision 15-20 more pounds of muscle as he would just mature," manager Mike Matheny said. "As you start to look for some compensation and where there might be weaknesses, how can he build up some parts of his body muscularly that will help support maybe the arm and the demand that comes with being a starting pitcher?"

Wacha made 23 starts before landing on the disabled list with the same right shoulder injury that cost him part of his 2014 season. He returned to pitch in relief and made one brief, ineffective start. Wacha finished the season with a 5.09 ERA over 138 innings.

"When his health is right, you're seeing the right arm action," Matheny said. "The next step is going to be the one that's missing right now. That's consistency in the strike zone. He's a rare talent that we need to figure out how to get into a consistent spot."

Might Moss be back?

As Brandon Moss prepares to become a free agent for the first time, the Cardinals continue to evaluate whether he could have a fit on their club in 2017. Moss ranked second on the team with 28 home runs, but he also struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances and finished the season with 10 hits over his last 106 at-bats.

Moss' two-run homer to right

Before that skid, Mozeliak had expressed interest in broaching an extension with Moss. If they are hesitant to commit that many years and dollars to the streaky outfielder/first baseman, the Cards could also extend a qualifying offer worth $16.7 million. If Moss were to pass on the one-year offer, the Cardinals would net a compensation Draft pick.

"I do feel as you sit here a few days after your season, one of the challenges is always look at what we could be, look like, or do we want to repeat what we had?" Mozeliak said. "You think about his contributions this year, and clearly he had a lot of success. And then the last six weeks were very difficult for him. I still think he's a great teammate, very well respected in that clubhouse. I do see there could be a role for him."

A fit for Garcia?

Mozeliak said the club intends to take the next month to evaluate whether Jaime Garcia has a fit on the team's 2017 roster. The Cardinals hold a $12 million option on the left-hander. While Garcia was able to stay healthy this season, he posted a 4.67 ERA and was yanked out of the rotation down the stretch due to poor performance.

Even if the Cards don't project Garcia denting their rotation next season, they could still exercise the option to retain him for depth purposes or as a trade chip.

Garcia fans six over seven

"There were nights where he looked like he was a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, and then there were nights where I'm sure the manager wanted to punch me," Mozeliak said. "As we sat here a year ago we felt really comfortable with our rotational depth and you saw how quickly that got tested in Spring Training. There is not much of a free-agent pitching market out there, so if we felt like we were going to come up short at some point then we would be better off just securing him."

Worth noting

• Which members of Matheny's coaching staff St. Louis will choose to retain will be decided within the next few days, Mozeliak said. The Cardinals do not anticipate Jose Oquendo returning to the Major League coaching staff, but rather expect him to slide into a Minor League instructional role that will allow him to work out of the team's Jupiter, Fla., complex.

• Mozeliak said the organization expects to wrap up its end-of-the-year health evaluations with players by early next week. At that point, it should be known if anyone will require an offseason procedure of some sort.

• The Cardinals have evacuated all staff and player personnel from their Florida complex in advance of Hurricane Matthew's expected landfall this week. Any players who are not able to travel back home will be relocated to an inland location in Florida. Mozeliak said the organization did not sustain any hurricane damage to its complex in the Dominican Republic.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for 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.