Jordan Hicks and Jack Flaherty were both renewed in odd fashion today as the St. Louis Cardinals completed deals with players that have less than three years of service time.
The St. Louis Cardinals hadn’t renewed a player in over a decade before the team was forced to do so with Tommy Pham last year. According to Derrick Goold, the Cardinals did so with Jordan Hicks and Jack Flaherty after the parties were unable to come to an agreement.
Does this mean that Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks are discontent with the organization? Well, I certainly don’t read it that way. What I see is two players who are worth way more than the Cardinals’ internal rookie scale can account for.
Goold had this to say about the rookie scale which the St. Louis Cardinals go by:
"“The Cardinals use an in-house formula to establish salaries for players, and they rarely (if ever) veer from that assigned salary. They offer it to the player, engage in conversations about it, see if there is some tweaking of the formula that needs to take place, and then can choose to agree or impose the formula’s original assigned salary…The formula is similar to a weighted Wins Above Replacement, taking into account past performance and service time. That means it would not consider the roles Hicks and Flaherty will be playing as the likely No. 2 starter and possible closer for the 2019 season.”"
Some fans may look back on the Tommy Pham situation as a reason to be worried, but you can also look at the Mike Trout situation and see how a different personality handles an even bigger slight.
To refresh the memories of those who might not remember, the Angels renewed Trout’s contract following a groundbreaking 2012 season in which he won Rookie of the Year and was the MVP runner up for just $510K, which was just $20K over league minimum.
Naturally, Trout’s agent quickly released a statement expressing his disappointment in the situation, saying “during the process, on behalf of Mike, I asked only that the Angels compensate Mike fairly for his historic 2012 season, given his service time. In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process. Nonetheless, the renewal of Mike’s contract will put an end [to] this discussion.”
While specific numbers for Flaherty and Hicks’ renewals haven’t been released as of the writing of this article, I am sure it is well over the paltry amount Trout received.
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The other reason I bring up the Trout situation is unlike Pham, Trout didn’t have any underlying tensions with the team. This hold true with Flaherty and Hicks as far as we know, which is a huge difference when it comes to discussing retaining these guys.
On the other hand, the relationship between the St. Louis Cardinals and Tommy Pham was rocky far before Pham rejected their two year offer last spring. From the treadmill incident to discontent over being benched while Oscar Taveras was still a factor in the outfield situation, Pham and the Cardinals front office were not on the best terms throughout his tenure.
This plays a huge part in whether or not this will lead to a dissolving relationship. As I mentioned before, this feels more like the performances of Flaherty and Hicks bringing their values up beyond normal rookie deals, so I don’t expect either player to be too upset about this particular deal.
While this situation seems like the St. Louis Cardinals imposing their wills on two of their brightest young talents on the surface, this will end up being just a blip on the radar, and will be a distant memory as the Cardinals jump into the 2019 season and beyond.