The St. Louis Cardinals don’t do hometown discounts

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Adam Wainwright #50 celebrates with Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals after they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Adam Wainwright #50 celebrates with Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals after they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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While “hometown discounts” often are cited as something players should be open to, the St. Louis Cardinals don’t seem to use them, and they really make no sense.

Fairly often, players who have been with a team several seasons – usually the team they came to the majors with, and frequently the team that drafted them – will sign a contract with that team that is below their market value were they to test free agency.  While some people (especially front office members) see that as a good thing, the concept is specious, and fortunately, the Cardinals don’t seem to play that game.

The theory behind a hometown discount is that, because a team has invested several years of developmental resources in a player to help him maximize his skills, the player should demonstrate his appreciation by agreeing to a team-friendly contract, either an extension prior to reaching free agency or a deal to stay “home” instead of leaving as a free agent.

In reality, this concept is absurd.  First, every team spends time and money to develop players, so it’s nothing special for any particular team to do this for any specific player.  It’s simply the way things are done.  Second, players are either drafted by a team not of their choosing or sign as international free agents, so the franchise they play for is very rarely their “hometown” team.  Third, teams already get discounts – and sometimes massive ones – for players’ first six seasons.  Typically, that’s three years at the league minimum and three years at arbitration salaries that have been estimated to be roughly 40%, 60%, and 80%, respectively, of free agent salaries, so the “discount” part already has been granted for a long time.

Let’s examine a couple of excellent real-world examples of this situation using a few contracts signed by two long-time Cardinals franchise icons, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, delving into each of their deals to see if any of them quality as hometown discounts.

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