The Cardinals and David Eckstein would like to continue their relationship, but it sounds like Walt Jocketty will wait until after the season to hammer things out.
If Eckstein has a poor season and Jocketty lets him walk, the team’s options will be limited. There’s never a surplus at shortstop. If 25 year-old shortstop Brendan Ryan can stay healthy and have a big year at Triple A, he could inherit the job. Otherwise Jocketty will have anywhere from zero to three free agent options.
The Cubs and Sox have similar situations, as both have club options for around $5MM on their slick-fielding shortstops. Juan Uribe’s option will probably be picked up but Cesar Izturis is a question mark. Omar Vizquel could be available, but the Giants have already met with his agent about an extension.
Most likely Jocketty will retain Eckstein, but the backup plan may have to be the trade market. Cristian Guzman, Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Erick Aybar, Edgar Renteria, Ben Zobrist, and Clint Barmes could be options there.