GM defends Jhonny Peralta signing


ST. LOUIS -- 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 morality "police." Mozeliak said the club was confident that 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."

The 31-year-old Peralta was suspended for 50 games last summer following Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs to players.

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," he said.

Mozeliak said in a statement Sunday that the Cardinals were "pleased" to sign Peralta, but the move drew a different reaction from some big leaguers.

Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler, the team's union player representative, tweeted that "it pays to cheat" and chided owners for "encouraging PED use."

Although he did not specifically name Peralta, Ziegler expressed his opinions in a series of tweets.

Free-agent pitcher David Aardsma also took to Twitter:

Peralta underwent a physical Sunday, though he 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 top 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.

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