Cardinals just announced that the team has reached an agreement with pitcher Jake Westbrook that keeps him in St. Louis through at least the 2013 season and possibly the following year as well. The deal basically guarantees his previous mutual option of $8.5M for 2013 and adds a new mutual option for 2014. The deal brings cost certainty as well as what fans might hope means stability to the starting rotation as well. Naturally, the deal may produce a ripple effect in terms of payroll flexibility moving forward. Consider the 9 players already signed for 2013:
- Matt Holliday – $17M
- Yadier Molina – $14M
- Adam Wainwright – $12M
- Jaime Garcia – $5.75M
- Carlos Beltran – $13M
- Chris Carpenter – $10.5M
- Jake Westbrook – $8.5M
- Rafael Furcal – $7M
- Skip Schumaker – $1.5M
This group totals $89.25M.
That’s almost $90M before throwing the pre-arbitration players into the mix. The list of relative bargains potentially includes Shane Robinson, Matt Carpenter, Tony Cruz, Lance Lynn, Daniel Descalso, Allen Craig, Fernando Salas, Jon Jay, Barret Browning, Ryan Jackson, and Joe Kelly. If the average salary for the members of this group averages just over $500K, the Cardinals could have 20 players under for 2013 at a cost of $95M.
Additionally, 3 players are set to become arbitration eligible for the first time, and it’s hard to imagine the team parting with Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, or David Freese. Like most teams, the Cardinals have shown a desire to come to an agreement before reaching an arbitration hearing, it seems likely that all 3 deals will get done sooner rather than later. Even if the average cost hits $2M per, that would put the team’s 2013 payroll commitment at $101M with 23 players signed.
Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan, and Edward Mujica all have an opportunity for another shot at the arbitration salary dartboard. Toss around a relatively round number of $3M average for each, and that brings the 2013 projected total to a nice, even number of $110M for 26 players in the fold. With a payroll already well into 9 digits, it seems like Kyle Lohse and Lance Bergman figure to be the odd men out.
Maybe. Maybe not. Theoretically, the team has to pick 5 starters from a group that includes Wainwright, Westbrook, Carpenter, Garcia, Lynn, Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Trevor Rosenthal, If they bring back Lohse, the group gets even larger. Why not? Consider the possibility of something in the $15M average annual value range and make it slightly back loaded to keep the 2013 opening day payroll under $120M. With at least $23.5M of 2013 salaries for Chris Carpenter and Carlos Beltran set to come off the books for 2013, the move to bring back Lohse would not theoretically preclude a Wainwright extension.
Speaking of a Wainwright extension, how about something like 4 years with a team option for a 5th year at about $16M AAV? Wipe out the end of his current deal which pays him $12M next season and start a new one. Seems like a lot, but consider that during his current 6 yr / $59.4M deal, he has gone 61-32 with a 2.92 ERA and an ERA+ of 137 and a 1.157 WHIP. Pay the man. Besides, he would turn 36 almost at the very end of that 5th year, and his deal would potentially expire the same time as Molina’s. Seems fitting.
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