The Cardinals' offseason has yet to begin, and once it does Albert Pujols will be the primary concern. GM John Mozeliak will also have to address the situations of four arbitration eligible players, and we look at them today as we finish off this series.
Theriot projects for a $3.9MM salary and is likely to be non-tendered. The statuses of Rafael Furcal, Nick Punto, and Schumaker will be factors, but Theriot makes too much money to continue on as a bench player and he's not the team's first choice at either middle infield position. Schumaker is a non-tender candidate as well, though he's more versatile than Theriot and projects at a more affordable $3.1MM. Motte ($1.7MM) and McClellan ($2.7MM) will be part of next year's club.
If the Cardinals exercise their club options for Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Octavio Dotel, they'll have about $84MM in contractual commitments. Add $4.4MM for Motte and McClellan and they're at $88.3MM before accounting for minimum salary players. A $110MM payroll would leave over $20MM in flexibility. One can certainly picture scenarios where a new Pujols contract fits in, though they'd probably have to take payroll a bit higher to sign Furcal and a few other minor pieces. A trip to the World Series helps the payroll situation.