Jack Flaherty faces murky future with St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty’s contract expires in 2023, and it appears his re-signing is a long shot.
When he’s healthy, St. Louis Cardinals ace starter Jack Flaherty is a force and one of the best pitchers in baseball. But that health has been a bugaboo this year, and it, along with some other factors, could hurt his chances of signing a long-term contract.
Flaherty’s salary negotiations in early 2021 were rough. He and the Cardinals went to arbitration, just the second time the Cardinals went through the full process since 1999. (Michael Wacha in 2017 was the other.) Flaherty won the case. I don’t know how this affected his relationship with the team, but it’s clear that even when he was healthy, he and the team didn’t see eye to eye on a contract.
Now, after an injury wiped out almost all of his 2021 season, Flaherty will have to remain healthy and prove dominant again to receive the offer he desires. The new collective bargaining agreement will hopefully be in place for 2022, and that agreement will likely aid younger players like Flaherty in making more money than they do now, but whether the Cardinals will appease him with such an offer is another question. With Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt under contract for several more years, the Cardinals could be reluctant to open their checkbook for Flaherty as well.
But even if he does receive a solid offer, there’s reason to believe Flaherty will want to test free agency. Unlike Nolan Arenado or Adam Wainwright, Flaherty has never seemed exceptionally devoted to the Cardinals. The arbitration process was one sign that he’s not tethered to the team, and he grew up a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could easily afford him. Playing there is tantalizing for many young players, but I can imagine it would be doubly so for Flaherty to return home and play for his favorite team.
Flaherty has also spoken out in support of the social justice movement. In 2020, he voiced his belief that kneeling for the national anthem was the right action to take. Missouri, not exactly a liberal bastion, doesn’t seem to fit Flaherty’s outspoken mindset. A place that certainly does is Los Angeles.
It looks like an uphill battle for Flaherty and the Cardinals to come to an agreement anytime soon, if ever. My advice is to watch Flaherty as much as possible while he wears the Cardinal red, because I’m not confident that this relationship is going to last.