The Cardinals seem to have finally gotten back to John Smoltz, opening a dialogue with him about returning to St. Louis for 2010.
We talked toward the end of the 2009 season about the possibility of Smoltz coming back for about $5 million. But it would seem like the Cardinals have about $7.5 million to spend on a fifth starter, a reliever, a reserve outfielder and maybe an infielder. So it would be hard to imagine the Birds could spend two-thirds of that on Smoltz.
It would seem that the Cardinals would have about $3 million to spend on Smoltz -- if that is the way they decide to go. Is that realistic? I don't know. It depends on how much Smoltz wants to play here. He is thought to be drawing interest from the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals, too. One of those teams could probably afford to pay more than the Cardinals could at this point.
He's 43, and has had recent arm troubles, so Smoltz is a risk. But he offers a lot fo versatility with a wealth of experience as both a starter and a reliever.
Cardinals free agent pitcher Joel Pineiro is almost certainly too expensive to bring back. According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, the Angels may have emerged as the leader in the effort to sign Pineiro.
The Mets have been trying to talk down Pineiro's price all off-season while the Dodgers have joined the fray even though they are limited in what they can spend. But the Halos have lost John Lackey and Chone Figgins to free agency. So they have a need in the rotation and plenty of money to spend.