St. Louis Cardinals: Avoiding arbitration results in a bargain

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 20: Reliever Tyler Lyons
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 20: Reliever Tyler Lyons /

The St. Louis Cardinals have avoided arbitration with Tyler Lyons, and the resulting deal is an incredible bargain.

The St. Louis Cardinals and left-handed pitcher Tyler Lyons avoided arbitration yesterday – reportedly reaching a one-year, $1.2M deal.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The versatile soon-to-be 30-year-old posted a 2.83 ERA in 54 innings pitched last year. He also posted a minuscule 1.093 WHIP while striking out a whopping 11.3 per nine.

Lyons posted great numbers which resulted in a WAR of 1.2.  For those of you counting at home, that is only 0.3 fewer WAR than Michael Wacha in 111 fewer innings. Opposing hitters posted a meager .202 batting average against Lyons.

Lyons’ numbers are even more impressive when you look at his versatility.  Lyons can start a game in a pinch, he can pitch in long relief, and he showed an ability to close out games.

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Lyons succeeded last year due in part to his devastating slider.  Lyons threw his slider more than any other pitch last year.  The pitch generated 65 whiffs.  Batters hit just .157 against his slider with no home runs, .216 slugging, and only 16 hits in 102 at-bats.

For a left-handed reliever with great versatility, Lyons would likely be looking at a deal a la Brad Hand on the open market.  Since Lyons is an arbitration player, however, his bargaining power is greatly reduced.  Instead of testing the arbitration process, Lyons agreed to the aforementioned $1.5M deal. Thus, the St. Louis Cardinals have a high-performing left-handed reliever secured for this season at a team-friendly rate.

The real question, which is outside the scope of this article, is whether or not Tyler Lyons will emerge as the closer for this team.  Absent an addition via trade or free agency, Lyons deserves a shot just as much as any other member of the current bullpen.  Whether Mike Matheny trusts Tyler in high leverage situations, however, remains to be seen.

Next: Cardinals Avoid Arbitration with Randal Grichuk

There is no question that Tyler Lyons had a great year last year.  There is also no question that the St. Louis Cardinals got a great deal for Lyons in the 2018 season.  What do you think?  Do you think Lyons is a bargain at $1.5 million?  Do you think his production last season and his wipe-out slider will earn him a shot at the closer role?  Leave a note in the comments or on Twitter with your view!