The Cardinals are faced with their first free agent defection of the 2011-12 offseason.
According to Fox Sports, back-up catcher Gerald Laird, who hit .232 with one homer in 2011 for St. Louis, is near a deal to return to the Tigers.
Laird was a catcher for the Tigers for two seasons prior to his signing with the Redbirds. Prior to that he spent several seasons with the Rangers.
Laird was notably involved in a dust-up with starting catcher Yadier Molina during the season. But it seems that the Cardinals may be interested in relying on youngsters Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson to compete to be the backup catcher in 2012.