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11/13/08 1:04 PM EST

Top priority: Lefty relief, middle infield

Push for Hoffman possible, but not the Cards' most pressing issue

ST. LOUIS -- It seems like a perfect fit. The Cardinals have a vacancy in the ninth inning, but a pair of youngsters -- Chris Perez and Jason Motte -- are waiting to seize the job in the relatively near future. Trevor Hoffman is a free agent, and not likely to want to pitch for more than a year or two.

And in time, the marriage may yet come to fruition. But if the market for Hoffman moves quickly, the Cardinals likely will not be a part of it. General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged on Thursday that a one- or two-year solution at closer would be, in theory, a great fit for the Redbirds, but also said that it's not priority one when the market opens on Friday.

"There is a chance that, at some point, we'll look at something at the back end of our [bullpen] or perhaps adding another starter, but I don't think that's the first thing on our priority list," Mozeliak said on Thursday, the last day that teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents.

"We want to deal with the left-handed relievers and also address the middle infield."

A Major League source has confirmed that, at this point, the Cardinals have not had conversations with Hoffman's representation. It may be difficult for any club to lure Hoffman away from San Diego, where he is a franchise icon with 15 years' service and where his family lives year-round.

So the Cardinals will focus on the left side of their bullpen and the middle infield. One lefty has already come off the market, with Damaso Marte signing a three-year deal to remain with the Yankees. That wasn't good news for St. Louis, though the terms may well have been.

Marte, arguably the top non-closing lefty in this year's class, signed for a guaranteed $12 million. If that's the ceiling on setup/tactical lefties, it's good news for a team that may be shopping for two of them -- as well as a second baseman and a shortstop.

Hot Stove

Those aren't the only blips on the Cardinals' radar, but they're the biggest. For example, St. Louis examined the possibility of a trade for Rockies slugger Matt Holliday last week at the General Managers Meetings in Dana Point, Calif.

But that was less about a desire to add an outfielder and more about Holliday specifically -- a former batting champion, three-time All-Star and 2007 MVP runner-up.

"There were lots of things going on last week and we explored many of them," Mozeliak said. "This one happened to become front-page [news] -- not to my desire. It was just something where we were looking at all these different options, that happened to be one of them, and we just explored it."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.