No. 4: Miles Mikolas (2018-2019)
Although Mikolas made the list of worst contracts in recent Cardinal history with his extension for the 2020-2023 seasons, his initial contract when coming back to the U.S. from Japan is the best free agent signing in terms of value since 2013.
Signed to a two-year, $15.5 million year, Mikolas began his Cardinals tenure with an All-Star season that saw him finish sixth in Cy Young voting with a record of 18-4 and ERA of 2.83 across 200.2 innings, adding up to a market value of $34 million for 2018 alone. 2019 was not as kind to Mikolas, but even so, he posted a “dollars” value of $19.3 million, out playing his deal once again.
Across the length of the deal, Mikolas went 27-18 with an ERA of 3.46 while throwing 384.2 innings. One can make a strong case that some of his lower K/9 numbers and very high xFIP would have made the front office hesitate at awarding a second deal, but there is no denying how valuable Mikolas was on his $7.75 million annual salary.