St. Louis Cardinals GM Defends Jhonny Peralta’s Record-Setting Deal

The St. Louis Cardinals set off a storm of controversy this week when they signed shortstop and admitted PED user Jhonny Peralta to an offseason-record 4-year deal worth $52 million. The $17 million-plus he’ll receive per year sets the high-water mark for salary among admitted users of performance-enhancing drugs.

The debate in St. Louis and throughout baseball is the idea of rewarding cheaters. Peralta was among 12 players that were given a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball in 2013 for violating the league’s drug policy. Signed to the Detroit Tigers at the time of the announcement, Peralta was candid and conciliatory about the matter.

“In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret,” Peralta said in a statement via Fox Sports. “I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers’ organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family.”

A free agent in the 2013 off-season, Peralta was enlisted by the St. Louis Cardinals to fill the No. 6 hole. St.Louis has competent fielders, but the team needs more power at the shortstop position.

Peralta’s big bat may have landed him big bucks in St. Louis, but it also created a big fuss from fellow players.

“Apparently getting suspended for PED’s means you get a raise. What’s stopping anyone from doing it?” asked free agent relief pitcher David Aardsma via Twitter, in the wake of the Peralta-St. Louis deal.

Ironically, it was Peralta’s show of character that helped him land the St. Louis deal.

“Character and makeup are something we weigh into our decision-making,” St. Louis GM John 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.”

When it comes to disappointment, fellow free agent and ‘suspendee’ Nelson Cruz probably won’t be experiencing any obstacles to a brighter future. With the premium St. Louis was willing to pay for Peralta, the coveted 2011 ALCS MVP can count on cashing in for even more than the Cardinals coughed up.

What do you think of Peralta’s contract with St. Louis? Is St. Louis sending the wrong message with this deal? Does Peralta’s talent justify the St. Louis front office’s decision?