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Report: Cardinals expected to sign free agent Jhonny Peralta to play shortstop

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(USA Today)

Update: An agreement is in place according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. The St. Louis Cardinals will give Jhonny Peralta a four-year deal worth $52 million to be their shortstop going forward. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN was the first to report the two sides were an agreement.

Original Post (Saturday): As a rule, once a big free agent domino falls, a couple more usually follow in quick succession. It appears we could be on the verge of that on Saturday, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick is now reporting that Jhonny Peralta is nearing a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

This news broke just an hour after the New York Yankees and Brian McCann reached an agreement on a 5-year, $85 million contract. Specifics of Peralta's impending deal are not yet known, but it was reported on Friday that Peralta was searching for and had received multiple four-year deals in the range of $56-$75 million.

Crasnick adds:

Shortstop was a top priority for St. Louis heading into the offseason. Earlier in the month they were linked to trade rumors involving Troy Tulowitzki, but Colorado Rockies ownership quickly squashed those by stating Tulowitzki was not available this offseason. Peralta isn't likely to make the type of impact Tulowitzki would at this stage in his career, but depending on the money should prove to be another quality acquisition by general manager John Mozeliak.

Of course, much will be made of Peralta's 50-game suspension last season for his connection to the Biogenesis Clinic in Florida, but that's of little consequence to Mozeliak. All he sees is the .303/.358/.457 slash line with 30 doubles, 11 homers and 55 RBI in just 107 games last year. The 31-year-old veteran is sure to provide a huge offensive upgrade over a 2013 shortstop crew that included Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso.

And besides all of that, there's this.

That's in reference to Peralta not receiving a qualifying offer from the Detroit Tigers. By doing so, Detroit would have received compensation when Peralta signed elsewhere.

It's all adding up to another slick move for Mozeliak, who just 24 hours earlier shipped third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. He obviously means business this winter, and the rest of the National League should be on high alert.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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