MLB Rumor Central: Shortstop options for the Cardinals

The Cardinals could trade for Erick Aybar to replace Jhonny Peralta. AP Photo/John Raoux

With shortstop Jhonny Peralta expected to miss 2-3 months with a left thumb injury, the St. Louis Cardinals could be looking to make a move.

Peralta will see a doctor to get a second opinion on his thumb on Wednesday, but St. Louis is already preparing for the worst, ESPN's Jim Bowden reports. According to Bowden, the Cardinals will give in-house options Jedd Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz a chance to hold down the position before seriously considering a trade for a replacement.

Gyorko, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres this offseason, figures to be the front-runner for the job. The 27-year-old has the power to replace Peralta's 17 home runs last season, but his 29 major league games at shortstop, all of which came last season, could be cause for defensive concern.

Meanwhile, Diaz appears to be making the most of his opportunity, going 4-for-4 with two doubles in Tuesday's spring win over the Minnesota Twins.

As for other options, in case Gyorko and Diaz falter, Erick Aybar of the Atlanta Braves is getting the most attention as a potential target. "If [the Cardinals] go outside, I think Erick Aybar has to be at the top of their list. Of the guys out there, he's far and away the best player," an executive tells ESPN's Jayson Stark. "[The Braves will] trade anyone but Freddie Freeman."

Another name to watch could be Pete Kozma, who is currently in New York Yankees camp as a depth option, ESPN's Buster Olney points out. Drafted by the Cardinals in 2007 and a member of the major league team for the last five years, the 27-year-old is familiar with the club and makes sense as an inexpensive quick fix.

Other speculative options, as laid out by the folks at MLB Trade Rumors, include Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores of the New York Mets, Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks and free agent Everth Cabrera, who is three years removed from an All-Star season.

If only the Cardinals knew they would need a new shortstop sooner, they could have signed Ian Desmond, who inked a one-year deal to be the Texas Rangers' left fielder last week.

Here are a few more rumors making their way around the league today:

  • Diamondbacks: Arizona received plenty of slack this offseason for what it gave up to get Shelby Miller from the Braves, but chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart believe the team is still in good shape for the future. In a piece from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, La Russa details how the team is built to contend for the next few years, pointing out how nearly all of the club's key players are under control for at least the next three seasons. "Our window of having a chance to be really good when you’ve got [Paul Goldschmidt] and his teammates [is now]," La Russa said. "Who knows what our club will look like four or five years from now?” Although trading 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson was tough, Stewart admits, La Russa speaks positively of young players Socrates Brito, Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury and Archie Bradley, a quartet he deemed "too dear" to trade this winter. Whether the D-backs' moves work out remains to be seen, but it's clear that the team feels it can contend now and has the pieces to remain relevant for years to come.

  • Ender Inciarte: Before he was dealt to the Braves in the above-mentioned Miller trade, Inciarte was targeted by the San Diego Padres, Stewart told Rosenthal. According to the D-backs' GM, the Padres had "big interest" in the outfielder but refused to part with either Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross in a deal. That knowledge provides an idea of how much value San Diego is putting in its two right-handers, who both could be trade bait this summer if the Pads once again struggle in the early going.

  • Jose Fernandez: In an effort to reduce the risk of injury for their young ace, the Miami Marlins want Fernandez to rely less on his fastball and be more crafty on the mound, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes. "We just want him to understand that he can stay under control and be effective," manager Don Mattingly said of the 23-year-old. "You don’t have to go 100 miles an hour and throw every pitch as hard as you can possibly throw it." Fernandez successfully returned from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2014 last season, and the Marlins are hoping to get a full year out of him in 2016. That said, the team will encourage Fernandez to attack the zone early, prioritizing ground balls over strikeouts. "We think pitching that way keeps him healthy for a long time," Mattingly said. "It's good for him. It's good for us. It's good for everybody. I want to take care of Jose."

  • David Hernandez: Believed to be the favorite to land the Philadelphia Phillies' closer job, Hernandez is currently sidelined with soreness in his right elbow, manager Pete Mackanin told reporters, including Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He has some issues with his elbow," Mackanin said. "I don’t know what they are. Issues is the best way I can put it. I don’t know if it’s even serious or [if] they're just backing off on it." Of course, any potential issues with a pitcher's elbow is a serious matter, especially when the player has undergone Tommy John surgery before, like Hernandez. For his part, the 30-year-old told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he feels good and is just taking things slow. The situation will be worth monitoring, as the Phillies have several other closer options in camp in Edward Mujica, Andrew Bailey and Ernesto Frieri.

  • Scooter Gennett: In other injury news, the Milwaukee Brewers shut Gennett down due to ongoing shoulder soreness, but an MRI revealed no structural damage, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Instead, the second baseman is dealing with mild tendinitis and will start from scratch in his workouts. Coming off an injury-riddled 2015, Gennett can ill afford to miss serious time again this year. The 25-year-old has proven he can hit for contact, but his lack of patience at the plate could affect how secure his job is.