ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals factored in Jhonny Peralta's drug suspension when they negotiated a four-year deal worth more than $50 million with the free agent shortstop.
General manager John Mozeliak said Monday that Peralta had admitted wrongdoing and served his penalty, and that the Cardinals weren't about to appoint themselves "morale police," seeming to mean principles rather than enthusiasm. Mozeliak said the club was confident this was an isolated circumstance.
"Character and makeup are something we weigh into our decision-making," Mozeliak said. "In his case, he admitted what he did, he took responsibility for it. I feel like he has paid for his mistakes, and obviously if he were to make another one, then it would be a huge disappointment."
Mozeliak agreed with critics that penalties aren't strict enough.
"You do need a deterrent, and right now 50 games does not seem to be necessarily stopping it," Mozeliak said.
But he also believed attitudes have changed.
"I think Major League Baseball has done a great job trying to clean up this game, and I feel like they've taken great steps," the GM said.
The 31-year-old Peralta was suspended for 50 games last summer following MLB's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. He underwent a physical on Sunday in St. Louis but did not attend the introductory news conference.
St. Louis also explored a trade but wasn't willing to part with several prospects. Mozeliak said negotiations went quickly after groundwork was laid at the GM meetings.
Peralta and Stephen Drew were the best two shortstops in free agency. Peralta was a plus for the Cardinals because they've got a lot of left-handed hitters and he bats right-handed.