A bit of clarity came for the Cardinals on Monday night as all three of their eligible free agents declined arbitration.
Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Joel Pineiro all thus re-affirm that they’re headed to the open market, rather than re-upping on one-year deals with St. Louis. Accepting an arbitration offer is tantamount to agreeing to a one-year contract at an undetermined salary.
The Cardinals remain in negotiations with Holliday, who is their top priority this winter. It was an absolute certainty that he would decline, given that agent Scott Boras is seeking a megadeal for the outfielder. DeRosa and Pineiro were also expected to decline, but there was a slight bit more drama in their cases.
DeRosa still maintains interest in a return to St. Louis, however. Representatives from his agency will meet with the Cardinals on Tuesday.
If Holliday goes elsewhere, DeRosa’s appeal for the Cardinals likely grows drastically. He could take over as the team’s new left fielder, or he could play third base and allow St. Louis to acquire another outfielder. According to a Major League source, DeRosa finds a return engagement in St. Louis compelling for a variety of reasons, including a desire to prove himself after a frustrating and injury-hampered tenure there this season.
“We’ll definitely talk,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “I would put him in that group of other options [in case Holliday does not re-sign].”
Pineiro’s odds for a return, however, have dwindled in the past day. With the Cardinals very close to a deal with free-agent righty Brad Penny, there is less room than before in the budget for a potential Pineiro re-signing.