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Key comments from John Mozeliak at Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up

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ST. LOUIS – John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations, spent nearly half an hour addressing the team’s offseason and future with media members.

These are among the most notable topics Mozeliak discussed to kick off this year’s round of Cardinals staff and player interviews at the 2024 Winter-Warm Up…

1. His assessment of the offseason

Mozeliak says he feels the Cardinals are stronger today than when their offseason began on Oct. 1.

“We’ve had a lot of roster turnover. We’ve brought in a lot of new faces. We’ve bene strategic about it because we’re trying to create some depth at our minor league system, but also at our big leagues.”

The Cardinals addressed pitching problems from 2023 and signed three former All-Stars in the 30s, led by last year’s AL Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray. They also acquired some possible bullpen pieces in trades for Tyler O’Neill and Richie Palacios. There haven’t been many moves otherwise.

“I always feel like you’re kind of known for what you’ve done. We were pretty aggressive early, trying to address what we wanted to do, and that was to find some innings. I think a lot of people look at our offseason as slow or [as if] we didn’t do what we needed to do. But we’re pretty excited about where our roster is.”

Mozeliak says he doesn’t see Winter Warm-Up as a finish line for the offseason, and there could be potential for more moves.

“We’re going to keep looking and continue to see if there’s a way to improve this club and make some additions. Overall, we feel good about where we are, but there’s always some work to do.”

2. His self-reflection after 2023

The 2023 season was the Cardinals’ first that ended with a losing record since 2007 and under Mozeliak as the team’s lead executive.

He says last season gave him some new perspective.

“There’s probably a little arrogance when you do something as long as I have done it. Approaching it in that way is not helpful. You have to have a little sense of humility on what can happen, realizing it’s hard to make everyone happy.

He continued, “But still try to be true on how we make decisions, and why we make decisions. Have we decided to tinker a little bit on how we make decisions? Yes. Clearly what we did last year didn’t work. That’s part of it. On a personal level, it’s understanding mistakes do happen.”

3. Yadier Molina’s role

Yadier Molina, one of the most accomplished catchers in Cardinals history, is back with the organization as a “special assistant to the president of baseball operations.”

It’s more of a front-office role than coaching, but Mozeliak hopes he can get experience in both fields this year.

“He’s going to be my right-hand man on everything. He’s going to be someone who gets his feet wet. I plan to have a meeting when he’s done in Puerto Rico in terms of getting with him and letting him understand how we think about player acquisitions and how we value players. Really giving him an introduction to that side of the business. Anything he can do to help our younger catchers, we’ll certainly welcome.”

How much will he help with the coaching side of things? That remains to be determined.

“I think he’s going to want to do that a lot. My guess is his comfort level is going to be more toward that side of things. We definitely know want to work on some of those things on the front office side that he wants exposure to.”

4. Nolan Arenado’s expectations

Nolan Arenado did not finish with a Gold Glove for the first time in his MLB career last year. His offensive production was also a little streaky throughout 2023.

Arenado is not attending this weekend’s Winter Warm-Up festivities, but Mozeliak says he’s pleased with is offseason workload and hopes he can return to MVP candidate form.

“He’s in a great headspace. He understands that last year didn’t go well for a lot of people, him included. But he realizes the value he is to this team and the importance he is to this team. He’s been very purposeful in his offseason to get himself prepared. Physically, he feels really good. Mentally, he’s in a good space. He’s excited to come to camp.”

5. Paul Goldschmidt extension possibilities

Reports have surfaced this offseason that the Cardinals would like to discuss a possible contract extension for 2022 NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt. Now 36 years old, the first baseman is entering a contract year while much of the roster is otherwise under team control for the next several years.

Mozeliak didn’t offer much on the situation, but made these remarks when asked about Goldschmidt:

“Everybody wants to see how this season starts. We want to get off on the right track. And then we can address things.”

6. RSN uncertainty

In a report published by MLB.com’s John Denton last week, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III suggested the Cardinals might be done making moves this offseason due to “financial uncertainties.”

Among them is a TV deal with Diamond Sports, the owner of regional sports network Bally Sports Midwest, which airs Cardinals games. After a bankruptcy filing last year, Diamond could be off the hook for money owed to teams after th 2024 season, based on whatever comes out of court proceedings.

Mozeliak says this hasn’t affected much this offseason, but is a situation to closely monitor beyond this year.

“We’re cognizant of it,” said Mozeliak. “It hasn’t had an adverse affect on us [this winter], but it could if we don’t right this ship.”

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