The St. Louis Cardinals are unlikely to talk extension with star right-hander Jack Flaherty until after the 2022 regular season.
Jack Flaherty should be the St. Louis Cardinals ace of the future. But entering the 2022 season, he has not been signed to an extension, meaning the possibility remains that he departs as a free agent after the 2023 season.
The Cardinals, however, haven’t even begun negotiations — and aren’t likely to until after the 2022 season, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Flaherty, 26, is projected to earn $5.1 million in arbitration this year, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The extension talks will be worth following closely, but so will the arbitration talks, as the Cardinals took Flaherty to a hearing – and lost – and were promptly dunked on by the right-hander on Twitter.
Even if the Cardinals started extension talks after the lockout, Flaherty may be hesitant to accept a long-term deal. While he broke out in 2019 and was arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball to start the 2021 season, injuries stalled what was shaping up to be a Cy Young caliber season. Still, he posted a 3.22 ERA and 85/26 strikeout-to-walk in 78.1 innings.
Flaherty may prefer to re-establish his value in 2022 in hopes of landing a mega-deal. After all, if he picks up where he left off in the first half of 2021 — 8-1, 2.90 ERA and 67/20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 62 innings – he would be looking at a nine-figure extension that would make him the face of the Cardinals’ rotation for at least the next few seasons.
While extension talks have not progressed, or even started, the Cardinals have long believed he’s had that ability. Flaherty clearly believes he has that ability too. And 2022 will go a long way toward shaping his future in MLB and whether he spends the prime of his career in St. Louis or elsewhere.