The St. Louis Cardinals completed phase one of their fine-tuning for 2013 when they signed left-handed relief specialist Randy Choate, 37, to a three-year contract worth $7.5 million.
Next up are right-handed bench help and middle infield depth.
"There is still some work to be done," said general manager John Mozeliak as he left the winter meetings in Nashville. "Where we are right now is good. We felt like we laid the groundwork to reach some of the things we needed to. We have a good picture of what's going on."
Choate tied for the National League lead in appearances last season at 80 while splitting the season between the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers. He held left-handed batters to a .158 average and a .218 slugging percentage while striking out 30 of 116 left-handed hitters.
The Cardinals had engaged in discussions with former Washington Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett but didn't want to match a Los Angeles Angels offer that will pay Burnett $8 million for two seasons plus a vesting option.
Employing Choate as a left-handed specialist will enable the Cardinals to utilize left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in more of a middle-relief role in which he would face both left-handers and right-handers.
The Cardinals, in their quest to sign a veteran right-handed-hitting outfielder with some thump, inquired about Scott Hairston, who was with the New York Mets last season. However, Mozeliak said that any bench help from the right side might not come until January.