Rafael Furcal will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and miss most or all of the 2013 season, the Cardinals announced today. GM John Mozeliak said he doesn’t expect to pursue outside help at shortstop, at least for now.
"From the immediate standpoint, I think we’re OK,” Mozeliak told reporters in Jupiter including B.J. Rains of MLBTR. “Now, as the season develops, if we don’t feel that things are going as we hoped, then we explore other options. But I think in the short-term, we feel comfortable where we’re at."
That leaves Pete Kozma as the Cardinals’ primary shortstop option with Ronny Cedeno as a backup and Daniel Descalso as another internal option. Though Kozma has limited MLB experience and a pedestrian minor league record, he impressed late in the 2012 campaign. Mozeliak expressed optimism that Kozma will play well enough that outside options won’t be required.
"I don’t see the free agent market putting much out there for a team from the middle infield standpoint in the near future,” he said. “But that could change because guys have options. But I think the trade market, might bear some things. We’re open. I don’t have the answer today.”
If the Cardinals were to look outside of the organization for shortstops today they wouldn’t find many options. Jason Bartlett, Ryan Theriot and Munenori Kawasaki are available in free agency and it’s possible players such as Reid Brignac will be available in trades.
If the Cardinals wait until midseason it’s at least conceivable that impact players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew and Troy Tulowitzki could be available. Once the season ends there could be additional trade candidates such as Elvis Andrus and J.J. Hardy plus free agents Brendan Ryan, Jhonny Peralta and Yunel Escobar. Furcal's two-year, $14MM contract expires this offseason.