LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After debating for nearly four hours on Monday night, the Memphis City Council again delayed its vote on a proposal that would permit the Cardinals to purchase the Triple-A Redbirds franchise and Memphis to take ownership of AutoZone Park. The Council will meet to discuss the issue again on Dec. 17.
The City Council had already delayed the vote for a week before this latest postponement. Members requested the first delay in order to have sufficient time to review the proposal documents. The decision to further push back the vote on Monday came after several council members voiced concern about several financial aspects of the deal.
This second delay threatens to keep the transaction from being completed by the Dec. 31 date that had been a part of the initial agreement. St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said after Monday's non-resolution that he was unsure whether everything could still be wrapped up by the end of the year.
If the proposal passes, the Cardinals would cover at least $15 million in stadium improvements to AutoZone Park and pay $300,000 in annual rent to the city. Operating costs of the franchise and the stadium would become the responsibility of the Cardinals, as well.
The new lease would assure the Redbirds of remaining in Memphis through at least 2030. Once that 17-year lease ends, two five-year renewal options could then be exercised.
If the purchase is eventually completed, the Cardinals will have assumed ownership of their fourth Minor League affiliate. The team already owns its Double-A affiliate in Springfield, as well as its high Class A and rookie level clubs that play out of the organization's Jupiter complex.
Cards GM Mozeliak preaching patience at Meetings
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A right-handed-hitting infielder remains atop the Cardinals' offseason wish list, but general manager John Mozeliak said he feels no pressure to ensure that a deal gets done during his four-day stay at the Winter Meetings.
The annual baseball gathering kicked off on Monday, with the Cardinals almost entirely out of the rumor mill. Following the November acquisitions of Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta, the Cards arrived at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort having already addressed their most critical needs.
That puts them in an advantageous position at a time when other clubs might feel compelled to make moves. The Cardinals, rather, have the opportunity to be selective and patient.
"I think the way we're looking at the next few days is just to sort of reassess maybe what we know [and] maybe there are some things we can learn," Mozeliak said. "If we have the ability to make an addition to the club, we're certainly open to it. But I do think patience at this point could benefit us. In other words, we don't need to make a reactionary move so we can put a bow on the Winter Meetings and call it a success. I'm a little reluctant to do that."
The Cardinals' search for an additional infielder includes both the free-agent and trade markets, Mozeliak noted. Finding a right-handed-hitting infielder for 2014 would create some competition at second base with Kolten Wong. It would also offer the Cards depth at the position in case they do not get their anticipated production from the young infielder.
Cards confident Taveras will be 100 percent by spring
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though top prospect Oscar Taveras has still not resumed running, a recent medical checkup by the Cardinals left the organization confident that Taveras will be 100 percent recovered from ankle surgery by the time Spring Training opens.
Taveras had his right ankle examined in St. Louis over the weekend, general manager John Mozeliak said on Monday. Taveras has since returned to the Dominica Republic, where he will remain until mid-January. At that point, he will come back to St. Louis for a follow-up medical exam. Taveras will not participate in winter ball this offseason.
"He hasn't been cleared for running yet, but that's not to say he couldn't be," Mozeliak said. "Right now, it's more important that he continues to gain strength and continues to improve from a balance standpoint. Then he will be cleared."
Taveras is expected to compete for a Major League roster spot in camp in the spring. He was limited to 46 games with Triple-A Memphis last season due to the ankle injury. In August, it was determined that Taveras needed surgery to clean up cartilage and repair ligament damage.
Peter Bourjos also recently traveled to St. Louis for a medical follow-up, after which he was cleared to start swinging. Bourjos, who was acquired by the Cardinals from the Angels in a four-player trade, has been rehabbing from September wrist surgery. Injuries limited the center fielder to 175 at-bats in 2013.
• The Cardinals have wrapped up their search for a new assistant hitting coach, and are expected to announce the hire before the end of the week. Mozeliak said the Cards did not want to create any additional news on Monday out of respect for Tony La Russa, who was elected to the Hall of Fame. The coaching vacancy was created when Bengie Molina left to join the Rangers.
• Mozeliak said he touched base with Carlos Beltran's agent after the right fielder turned down the Cardinals' qualifying offer in early November; however, the Cards never made an attempt to re-sign Beltran to the multi-year deal he was seeking. Beltran has reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year, $45-million contract with the Yankees. Mozeliak said he reached out to Beltran through text messaging to congratulate the 36-year-old outfielder on the new deal.
"It would have been such a difficult fit for us," Mozeliak said. "Obviously, Carlos is still playing at a very high level and expects to play every day. It would have drastically changed how we would have thought about something."
• Mozeliak noted that the organization will consider modifying Adam Wainwright's Spring Training program due to the workload Wainwright carried in 2013. Wainwright is coming off a season in which he threw a career-most 276 2/3 innings. The Cardinals offered this sort of spring flexibility to Chris Carpenter after some of his more strenuous seasons.
• Bourjos has chosen to wear No. 8 with the Cardinals, while Peralta will take No. 27. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist wore No. 27 last season, but he has agreed to give up the number. Both Bourjos and Peralta have been invited to attend the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up event in January.
• Stephen Piscotty, ranked by MLB.com as the organization's seventh-best prospect, was named to the Arizona Fall League's Top Prospect team on Monday. Piscotty, 22, hit .371 with 20 runs scored, a .430 on-base percentage and a .936 OPS in 23 games with the Salt River Rafters.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.