UPDATE: The deal is expected to be worth a little over $52 million across four years, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. The Cardinals are obviously willing to pay a premium for a substantial upgrade at short.
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Free agent Jhonny Peralta is "closing in on a deal" with the Cardinals, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. There's no word yet on the terms of the proposed deal, but when things get this close, they usually get done.
Peralta, 31, hit .303/.358/.457 with 30 doubles, 11 homers and 55 RBI in just 107 games last year, as he served a 50-game suspension due to his ties to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida that MLB concluded had been supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.
Peralta would serve as a significant upgrade offensively over Kozma, who hit .217/.275/.273 last season, good for a 54 OPS+, or a whopping 46 percent worse than league average. The defense at shortstop will decline, though, as Peralta lacks range while Kozma is a very good defender. According to defensive runs saved -- my personal favorite advanced measure -- Kozma saved eight last season while Peralta sat at exactly zero (which isn't awful, because players can accumulate a negative tally).
Again, it sounds like nothing is finalized but it appears headed that way.
UPDATE: Sounds like the Cardinals might be paying a pretty penny:
i team that offered $52M for 4 yrs for peralta was told they're not even in game. will be fascinating how high it goes.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 24, 2013