December 12, 1994: Tom Henke signs deal to play his final season in St. Louis

Just a couple weeks shy of his 37th birthday, baseball had taken Tom Henke from Texas to Toronto and back again. Now the 6-foot-5 right-hander was ready to return to his roots. On December 12, 1994, Henke signed a one-year, $2-million contract to serve as the Cardinals’ closer in 1995. The 13-year major-league veteran had…

December 22, 2011: Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran in wake of Pujols’ departure

After Albert Pujols signed a record 10-year, $254-million contract with the Angels following the 2011 season, the Cardinals had a short list of free agents who could fill their sudden need for an impact bat. Carlos Beltran’s name was at the top of the list. On December 22, 2011, the Cardinals signed the 1999 American…

December 20, 1999: Cardinals finally get their man in trade for Fernando Vina

After more than a year, the Cardinals finally had their leadoff hitter. On December 20, 1999, the Cardinals finalized a trade to send pitcher Juan Acevedo and two minor league players to be named later to the Brewers for Fernando Vina. On June 13, 2000, they completed the trade by sending catcher Eliezer Alfonzo and…

December 18, 2004: Cardinals trade for Mark Mulder

On the heels of the Cardinals’ loss to the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series, their offseason began with the departure of several prominent players. Shortstop Edgar Renteria signed with Boston. Catcher Mike Matheny went to the Giants, second baseman Tony Womack signed with the Yankees, and pitcher Woody Williams returned to the Padres…

December 16, 1988: Cardinals get Milt Thompson in trade with Phillies

 From the moment he arrived in St. Louis, the Cardinals saw Milt Thompson as a Whitey Herzog type of player. On December 16, 1988, the Cardinals traded outfielder Curt Ford and catcher Steve Lake to the Phillies for Thompson. A former second-round pick of the Braves in 1979, Thompson was expected to serve as a…

December 15, 1995: Willie McGee returns to St. Louis

 On the same day the Cardinals announced that shortstop Ozzie Smith had been medically cleared to play in the upcoming 1996 season, the team reunited with another star from its pennant-winning 1980s teams. On December 15, 1995, the Cardinals signed Willie McGee to a minor-league contract worth $500,000 if he made the team.[1] Though the…

December 14, 1998: Cardinals fill their shortstop need with trade for Edgar Renteria

In December 1998, the Cardinals’ winding quest for a shortstop led them to Miami. On December 14, the Cardinals traded pitchers Braden Looper and Armando Almanza and shortstop prospect Pablo Ozuna to the Marlins for Edgar Renteria. Just 13 months earlier, Renteria’s 11th-inning RBI single off Charles Nagy won Game 7 of the World Series.…

December 13, 2003: Cardinals deal J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero to get Jason Marquis, Ray King, and Adam Wainwright

When the Cardinals drafted J.D. Drew in 1998, they thought they were getting a franchise cornerstone. More than five years later, they obtained a new foundational piece when they traded Drew to the Braves in a five-player deal. The Cardinals sent Drew and catcher/outfielder Eli Marrero to Atlanta in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Marquis,…

December 12, 1984: Cardinals trade George Hendrick to the Pirates for John Tudor

As Whitey Herzog looked ahead to the 1985 season, he knew he had plenty of outfield talent in the pipeline, but he desperately needed pitching. The Pirates, meanwhile, had plenty of pitching but needed to add punch to their offense. So on December 12, 1984, the Cardinals traded outfielder George Hendrick and utility man Steve…

December 9, 1980: Cubs trade Bruce Sutter to the Cardinals

In October 1982, Bruce Sutter closed the door on the Cardinals’ first world championship since 1967. His path to that moment began almost three years earlier, shortly after he was named the 1979 National League Cy Young Award winner. Sutter had a contract with the Cubs for the 1980 season, but the agreement included a…