The St. Louis Cardinals are closing in on signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The terms of the contract are not yet known, but Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that it is expected to be a four-year contract. Peralta is looking for a four- or five-year deal in the $56 to $75 million range, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Friday.
Peralta, 31, has also drawn interest from the Yankees, Mets, Mariners and Orioles this winter, but looks instead to be heading to St. Louis to fill the only gaping hole on the Cardinals' roster. The Cardinals relied on Pete Kozma to man the position in 2013, but he struggled offensively, hitting .217 with 1 HR and 35 RBI in 143 games. After a lackluster postseason performance from Kozma, the team decided to prioritize upgrading at shortstop and has been linked to many of the top available shortstops since the end of the World Series. According to reports, the Cardinals have expressed interest in trading for Jed Lowrie (Athletics), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies), J.J Hardy (Orioles), Elvis Andrus (Rangers), but ultimately decided to turn to the free agent market with the addition of Peralta.
In 107 games during a season in which a suspension due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal cost him 50 games, Peralta hit .303 with 11 HR and 55 RBI with the Tigers. He was very productive for Detroit in the playoffs, hitting .333 with a home run and 6 RBI in ten ALDS and ALCS games. While Peralta is not widely regarded as an excellent defensive shortstop, his offensive numbers have merited All-Star appearances in two of the last three seasons. In eleven seasons with the Indians (2003-2010) and Tigers (2010-2013), Peralta is a lifetime .268 hitter with 156 HR and 698 RBI. His best full season came in 2011 with the Tigers, when he hit .299 with 21 HR and 86 RBI in 146 games.