As they met this week with agents for free-agent infielders who have caught their eye this winter, the Cardinals acknowledged that whatever they could offer in salary or interest they couldn’t match in the key part of any sales pitch.

They don’t have playing time to guarantee.

They have a rookie who will be getting that.

“When they’re looking at true opportunity, they know that Kolten Wong exists,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “And they know our intentions are for him to play.”

After making a trade for center fielder Peter Bourjos and signing free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mozeliak said that both moves cleared the way to make Wong, the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2011, the everyday player at second base. Matt Carpenter, an MVP candidate this past season, will move back to third base, his natural position, and Wong will get spring training to affirm the Cardinals’ plan with production. The club remains interested in adding a righthanded-hitting infielder to pair with Wong, but Mozeliak said he has presented to agents the possibility that playing time for that infielder will be limited.

The Cardinals concluded the final full day of the annual winter meetings with the announcement that Wong is the team’s minor-league player of the year and pitcher Zach Petrick the organization’s pitcher of the year. Petrick, an undrafted free agent, excelled to a 7-3 record with a 1.99 ERA at three different levels, finishing at Class AA. Wong hit .303 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs for Class AAA Memphis before an August promotion to the majors. The nod to the team’s starting second baseman served as a fitting, if not official, coda to quiet meetings.

Their shopping done before Thanksgiving, the Cardinals arrived at Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin resort for the four-day meetings with little on the agenda. Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. did not make the trip. Mozeliak joked about his staff’s open schedule. A scout with another NL team asked a reporter why the Cardinals even bothered “with their roster already set.” The announcement that Wong was the team’s player of the year was a lot like this week’s lack of activity — predictable.