The St. Louis Cardinals have been known to be quick on the draw when it comes to handing out extensions for their players. Are any expected this winter?
Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong, Miles Mikolas, Paul Goldschmidt, and Matt Carpenter. Do you know what these St. Louis Cardinals players have in common? In the past five years, each of them has been extended by the Cardinals during spring training.
While the extensions given to Mikolas and Carpenter seem to be a little rushed, the other three have worked out quite well. Wong and DeJong’s extensions both were team-friendly that bought out arbitration years and Goldy’s was to ensure that the star could get comfortable in St. Louis before his first season here.
Extensions in the spring can ensure there aren’t lame-duck years for free agents that the team wants to keep around longer and for young players on the rise, can lock in a player on a team-friendly deal while ensuring stability for the player.
I agree that sometimes Mo has gone a little overboard on these extensions (especially to the older players), but when they are given to arbitration or pre-arb players, there’s very little risk. The 2020 St. Louis Cardinals were a relatively young team, but they have some players who are in arbitration or final contract years that could be due for extensions. Let’s see who.
The Cardinals’ young ace is entering his first year of arbitration and is projected to make between $2.2M and $3M. Even though he had a down year, this is an absolute steal for such a good pitcher.
Throughout his young career, Flaherty has been clear that he is against the arbitration process and the way it treats the best young players in the game. This means that he probably won’t be open to signing an extension, but if there is any chance that the Cardinals can convince him to sign here to buy out arbitration and maybe a year or two of free agency, you take it.
If the Cardinals decide to take the $12M option on Wong, it would be easy to see them approaching the 30-year-old about an extension.
Wong has really blossomed in the past two years and is due for a raise, but could still be a candidate to sign for four years or so with the club.
With the decline of Matt Carpenter and the uncertainty that is still there with Tommy Edman‘s budding career, Wong is a perfect pillar to keep at leadoff and second base for the future.
Speaking of Tommy Edman, if the club believes he’s somewhere between the player he was in 2019 and 2020, he would be a great player to lock up on a Wong-esque deal this winter.
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Back in 2016, Wong signed his current five-year, $25.5M deal that has been a great deal for both sides. The great thing about these deals is that the player doesn’t have to be super productive for it to be worthwhile for the team. They are also deals that are easy to move if they want to.
If you’ll remember back to before the 2017 season, the Cards signed Stephen Piscotty to a six-year, $33.5M deal when they believed the then-25-year-old would be around for a while. After a year where off-field issues plagued Piscotty’s production, they easily found a partner in the Oakland A’s to take Piscotty. There was more going on with this deal than just the players going back and forth, but the point is that the contract didn’t hold the deal back at all.
Edman has shown he is capable around the infield and in the outfield and while I’m not sure I’d want to count on him long term, I am not in charge of anything.
A really fun name to think about what a potential extension would look like is Dylan Carlson. Although he has just 110 at-bats in the bigs, other teams have locked up guys earlier (see Jimenez, Eloy). I don’t know if that would be smart from a general perspective, but it’d be exciting at least.
Beyond these guys, I find it hard to believe that anyone else would get an extension. I doubt the Cardinals look to extend any of the other arbitration-eligible relievers (Alex Reyes, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks) and I have to believe the same can be said about Harrison Bader.
It remains to be seen just what the true effects of COVID-19 will be on organizational activities, but these deals are normally among the most financially sound deals teams make.
Again, these are deals that the team usually likes to do in spring training, but this is going to be a wacky offseason, so we may see them sooner or not at all.