While rumors swirl about Aaron Judge’s free agency, the Cardinals are in rare company with their big ticket re-signings
The St. Louis Cardinals are the big money spenders that teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, or Los Angeles Angels are, but they really do swing above their weight-class when it comes to making major moves.
Although the Cardinals are nowhere near the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, they did get Nolan Arenado to forego his opt out clause, where he easily could have commanded more money in free agency. The Cardinals have some special sauce when it comes to acquiring and retaining many of their stars at team friendly rates, but they also happen to be one of the only team’s to outbid the open market to retain a superstar player.
Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that the Yankees slugger Judge has received a record breaking offer from the Yankees, which would make him the highest paid position player on an annual basis. What may be most surprising is how rare it is for player’s former team to be the one to pay the most money, and the Cardinals are one of the last team’s to do that with former All-Star and new bench coach Matt Holliday.
"“Across the industry, the expectation is that Judge re-signs, but it’s worth remembering: Thema last time the highest-paid free agent remained with his current team was Yoenis Cespedes with the Mets in 2016,” Passan wrote. “And before that, it was Matt Holliday in 2009.”"
Back during the 2009 off-season, there was a lot of speculation that Holliday would cash in with one of the bigger markets and leave St. Louis after they acquired him in a deadline deal. Instead, the Cardinals re-signed Holiday to a 7-year, $120 million deal, the highest paid position player of that year’s free agency.
First, it’s crazy to think that only 13 years ago, $120 million would be the largest deal handed out to the best position player in free agency. This was the beginning of the Cardinals spending with the likes of some of the bigger markets, and was a huge get for St. Louis as Holiday eventually helped them win a World Series in 2011.
Second, it is hard to believe that the Cardinals are one of only two teams in the last 13 years to outbid the open market to retain one of their players with the highest deal handed out. It ended up being a great deal as well. Sure, club’s hand out record extensions before players hit free agency, but this shows just how rare it is for a club to retain a player that is looking to top the market in any year’s free agency.
While the Cardinals may not make a splash this off-season, it is worth reminding ourselves that the club is not afraid to make big moves, and even outbid the biggest markets, they just may be a bit more calculated than we would like.