ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals released Adam Kennedy on Monday, leaving the second base job up for grabs with just a week to go before spring training.
The team requested waivers on Kennedy that will expire Wednesday, when he'll become an unrestricted free agent. Kennedy is due to make $4 million next season, the last year of a three-year contract. His new club would only have to pay him the $400,000 minimum while the Cardinals would be responsible for the rest.
Several players from within the organization will compete for the starting job at second base, including Skip Schumaker, who has spent his entire professional career as an outfielder.
The 33-year-old Kennedy came up with St. Louis in 1999 before being traded to Anaheim, where he was part of the 2002 World Series championship squad. He is a career .276 hitter in 10 seasons.
The Cardinals signed Kennedy as a free agent before the 2007 season and he hit. just .219. He improved to .280 last season but never seemed to mesh with manager Tony La Russa.
When St. Louis acquired Felipe Lopez in August, Kennedy requested a trade. Lopez played 23 games at second base down the stretch.
"We have exhausted all trade possibilities for Adam, and have decided that it was within both the club and the player's best interests to give Adam his unconditional release," general manager John Mozeliak said in a written statement. "As we move forward, we feel that it is best to try and fill the second base position with other players from within our organization."
That's a bit of a risk as St. Louis tries to get back to the postseason for the first time since winning the 2006 World Series. The Cardinals did not re-sign Lopez, who instead signed with Arizona in December. Aaron Miles, the versatile backup infielder who hit .317 last season, signed a two-year contract with the Cubs.
Schumaker hit .302 in 540 at-bats last season, splitting time at all three outfield positions, and would be a good fit as a leadoff hitter. But he could be the odd man out of a crowded outfield.
The Cardinals have Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick locked in for the outfield, along with Chris Duncan. And prospect Colby Rasmus could be ready this season. So La Russa has been open to seeing if Schumaker could handle second base.
Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow said Schumaker is already in Florida working out in the infield. He said the team had no immediate plans to trade for a second baseman.
"Right now, going into camp, they're going to give people within the organization the chance to show what they can do," Bartow said.
The only returning Cardinals player with second base experience on the major league level is Brendan Ryan, who has played 40 games there during his two-year career. In 377 career at-bats he has hit .265 with four home runs.
Other candidates include minor leaguers Brian Barden, Joe Thurston, Jarrett Hoffmpauir and Tyler Greene. Greene, 25, was a first-round draft pick (30th overall) in 2005. Normally a shortstop, he hit .254 with 16 homers splitting time between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis last season.