ST. LOUIS -- Brandon Moss' tenure with the Cardinals appears to be coming to an end, as general manager John Mozeliak said on Friday that the club is unlikely to make Moss a qualifying offer by Monday's deadline.
Of the Cardinals' four departing free agents, Moss was seen as the only potential candidate to be extended a qualifying offer, which is a one-year deal worth $17.2 million for 2017. Ultimately, however, the organization did not want to risk Moss accepting the offer, which would have been binding. The potential gain for the Cardinals, of course, would have been netting a compensatory Draft pick if the offer was rejected by the player.
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Instead, Moss joins the free-agency pool for the first time in his career, and, at age 33, he will seek his first multiyear deal. The Cardinals, who acquired Moss at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2015, are not expected to be among the teams pursuing him this winter. Instead, St. Louis is zeroed in on adding a center fielder so that Randal Grichuk can shift to left field.
Moss' stock dipped significantly after a historically awful September. He ended the season in a 10-for-106 skid, during which his season OPS dropped from .930 to .784. That slump came just weeks after Mozeliak said he would be open to discussing an extension with Moss, and it changed the organization's view on Moss' potential fit beyond 2016.
Nevertheless, Moss finished the season with 28 home runs, second most on the team, and an .828 OPS against right-handed pitchers. He was also a capable defensive option both at first base and in left field.
Since the qualifying-offer system was implemented as part of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is just the second time that the Cardinals have not extended at least one. They had previously done so with Kyle Lohse (2012), Carlos Beltran (2013), John Lackey (2015) and Jason Heyward (2015). None of those players accepted the offer, and as a result, the Cardinals added four extra Draft picks during that span.
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.