As was expected, the St. Louis Cardinals and general manager John Mozeliak will not need to worry about attending arbitration hearings in 2012. The Cardinals reached an agreement with assumed closer Jason Motte. The contract is reportedly for one-year and $1.95 million with $75K in incentives according to a tweet from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The guaranteed amount is the mid-point of the figures each side swapped last week.
The Cardinals have not been to arbitration with a player since 1999. The biggest question here was whether the Cardinals would be paying Motte for more than one season or not as there were rumblings of a multi-year deal. I wrote last week that I felt Motte would be able to win in arbitration based on his performance the last two seasons.
Motte had an excellent season in 2011, going 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 9 saves. He was consistent throughout the regular season recording 20 holds and was arguably the most productive member of the bullpen. His dominance in the set-up role eventually earned him the closer role in late August. Motte was virtually untouchable in the first two rounds of the playoffs and he pitched well in the World Series.
It remains to be seen if the Cardinals and Motte will speak further about a long term contract or not. Without reading into it too much, the Cardinals probably figure they can do this year to year with Motte until he becomes a free-agent and it doesn’t cost them more than the one season at a time. It may also mean that they are not certain he will flourish in the closer role and want to see if he can handle it for a full season before discussing longer terms with him.