The St. Louis Cardinals are on the verge of upgrading a position that haunted them throughout the playoffs, as they're nearing agreement on a four-year contract with free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
A person with direct knowledge of negotiations confirmed the Cardinals are expected to sign Peralta. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
Peralta would become the first player suspended in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal to receive a significant contract. He received a 50-game suspension on Aug. 5 for his connection to the now-closed Florida clinic, but returned for the Detroit Tigers' final three regular season games.
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Peralta enhanced his value in the postseason, when he played 10 games in left field and shortstop for Detroit, batted .333 and had several big hits as they fell two wins
shy of winning a second consecutive American League pennant.
In St. Louis, he will shore up a weak link on a club that nearly won the World Series. The Cardinals lost Rafael Furcal in March to season-ending elbow surgery, and made do with Pete Kozma during the regular season. Kozma batted just .217 with one home run and a grim .548 on-base plus slugging.
Kozma also committed several misplays in the playoffs and was supplanted by utilityman Daniel Descalso in two World Series games.
Peralta's offensive production figures to more than justify his adequate shortstop play.
In three years as the Tigers' starter, he averaged 15 homers, 68 RBI and produced a .772 OPS. Just prior to his suspension, the Tigers acquired defensive whiz Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox, making Peralta expendable going forward.
Peralta's pending agreement with the Cardinals was first reported by ESPN.