ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals addressed another major offseason concern Thursday night, taking advantage of the San Diego Padres' sell-off mode by acquiring shortstop Khalil Greene for minor leaguers.
The Padres get minor league right-hander Mark Worrell and a prospect to be named from a pool of three players, two pitchers and one position player. General manager Kevin Towers said the team has until April 1 to make its selection and hinted he might want to take another look in spring training before deciding.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak wouldn't say whether the prospect pool included players on the 40-man roster.
The 29-year-old Greene hit just .213 with 10 home runs last year, and struck out 100 times in 105 games. But in 2007, he had 27 homers, 44 doubles and 97 RBIs. He is a career .248 hitter with 84 homers in five-plus seasons, a franchise record for a San Diego shortstop.
Mozeliak said Greene's poor season was a "combination of a lot of things. He was playing in a tough ballpark and they had a tough season."
"We're looking at this as a fresh start, and hopefully we'll see the player from 2007," he said.
Greene is also considered a good defensive player, with just 28 errors over the past three seasons. He replaces Cesar Izturis, whose contract was not renewed.
"I would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that I am both excited and honored to have a chance to play and contribute for such a storied franchise as the St. Louis Cardinals," Greene said in a statement. "The tradition in St. Louis speaks for itself and I am hopeful to be a strong contributor."
The deal came a day after the Cardinals filled another significant hole, signing left-hander Trever Miller to a one-year contract. That deal was held up after a physical revealed a shoulder injury that Miller has been pitching with. It was finalized at a year shorter but sweetened with incentives.
"We couldn't be more pleased to have acquired a shortstop with the solid combination of offense and defense that Khalil Greene brings to our ballclub," Mozeliak said. Mozeliak added that he saw the trade as a "perfect match."
Greene is due to make $6.5 million in the final season of a two-year, $11 million contract, and is eligible for arbitration after 2009. Towers said the Padres are not paying any of Greene's 2009 contract.
Towers said it was hard to trade Greene, a homegrown player who was a first-round draft pick in 2002. But since Greene declined a long-term contract last offseason and took just a two-year deal, Towers figured it would be hard to keep him after 2009.
"We're certainly reducing our payroll," Towers said. "It's common knowledge out there. Khalil will make $6.5 million and I'm not going to say that that did not play into it.
"It's a combination of salary and this is a guy we probably wouldn't be retaining after this season," Towers added. "Plus, I'm trying to build depth in the bullpen."
The Greene deal is part of a cost-cutting effort by the Padres, who also are shopping ace pitcher Jake Peavy less than a year after giving him a $52 million, three-year contract extension. Last month, the Padres withdrew a $4 million contract one-year offer with a $4 million club option for 2010 to closer Trevor Hoffman, the career saves leader.
Padres owner John Moores reportedly is selling 49 percent of the team due to a divorce.
Towers said he'd resume discussions regarding Peavy with Cubs GM Jim Hendry next week at the winter meetings, but could conceivably open the season without dealing the right-hander.