The Cardinals remain interested in bringing back free agent Rafael Furcal but the ongoing talks with free agent first baseman Albert Pujols could eventually force them to look elsewhere at shortstop.
In a conversation Tuesday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak admitted that negotiating with Pujols could cause the club to miss out on other opportunities.
The Cardinals are focusing most of their time and effort in free agency on Pujols in part because they don't know how much money they will have left to address shortstop and other areas of need on the club.
"It's obviously a lot of resources that would go into that bucket, so yes in the sense that we're not able to move on other fronts," Mozeliak said. "But should we not get Albert done I think then we would have resources to explore other things. With that said, I don't feel like we're losing opportunities to date."
Asked if he had a date in mind that he'd like to have closure to the Pujols situation either one way or another, Mozeliak said, "No but I mean obviously from a club standpoint, sooner is better than later in the sense that if this thing were to drag say hypothetically into January, I think that would hamper other opportunities down the road."
And should that happen and shortstop Rafael Furcal get tired of waiting and sign elsewhere, the Cardinals appear OK inserting Tyler Greene - a career .218 big-league hitter - as his replacement.
"We're open to exploring the shortstop market but we also feel like there is some sentiment to give Tyler Greene a chance," Mozeliak said. "Internally, there is a debate on trying to give him that opportunity, give him that job, and we haven't ruled that out.
"We just want to make sure that we have balance offensively and with the club currently constituted, we do think we could score enough runs and we do think he's a type of offensive player that is a threat at the plate."
The 28-year-old Greene was a first round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2005. He's appeared with the big league club in each of the past three seasons but has struggled with sporadic playing time.
Considered an above-average defender and base stealer, Greene would provide the Cardinals with a base-stealing threat they haven't enjoyed for several years. But he would have to get on base more than the .307 on-base percentage he's accumulated in 150 Major League games for it to be an advantage.
Greene has struggled with the pressure of trying to impress the Cardinals in limited situations. But the Cardinals feel that publicly naming him the starter could let him relax and show the talent he's displayed for years in the minor leagues.
"I do think it would be a nice confidence boost if he just knew the job was his," Mozeliak said. "We can't guarantee it today but it's certainly something we're talking about."
Infielders Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot are both arbitration eligible and due raises, meaning the uncertainty over the amount of money needed for Pujols could cause the Cardinals to be forced to let them go.
Should that happen, infielder Dan Descalso - who spent most of his time at third base last season - could end up being the starter at second base.
"Dan Descalso played very well this year and we feel very comfortable if he had to be our second baseman," Mozeliak said. "But we're also looking at those opportunities and just seeing how best to put the club together."
Mozeliak cautioned that no decision had been made on inserting either Descalso or Greene in as starters but said he would be fine should both of them end up respresenting the Opening Day middle infield.
"I mean that's something that if we had to go with it, that would be fine with us," Mozeliak said. "I'm not saying we're going to end up there. I don't think from a fan's standpoint that's quite as attractive as maybe something else but it's certainly an option."
The Cardinals hope to intensify possibilities on several fronts including the free agent and trade market during their five-day stay in Dallas next week.