The deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to come to a contract agreement was today at noon central. The St. Louis Cardinals had six players who were arbitration-eligible: Dylan Carlson, Tommy Edman, Ryan Helsley, JoJo Romero, John King, and the newly acquired Andrew Kittredge.
Historically, John Mozeliak has preferred a "file and trial" approach, meaning the team submits its contract proposal, and if the player declines the offer, the two parties will go through the arbitration process. The team hasn't shied away from extensions to its arb-eligible players in the past, so that was a possibility for this year's crop of young players.
The Cardinals reached agreements with right-handed closer Ryan Helsley, outfielder Dylan Carlson, and relievers Andrew Kittredge, JoJo Romero, and John King. Carlson's contract is for $2.35 million, and Helsley's contract is for $3.8 million. Carlson nearly triples his salary from last year, and Ryan Helsley sees a $1.7 million pay raise.
Helsley, an All-Star and a Second-Team All-MLB pick in 2022, will be the team's primary closer in 2024. He has a career 2.83 ERA in just under 200 innings. He has accumulated thirty-five saves in five seasons. Helsley faced his fair share of injuries last year, but he still finished with a 2.45 ERA in 36.1 innings. He will turn thirty in late July.
Dylan Carlson is going to be the team's fourth outfielder per John Mozeliak. He placed third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2021, and he seemed to put it all together that year. Once a top prospect in all of baseball, Carlson hasn't been able to return to those heights due to injuries and inconsistent playing time. He has a career .243/.322/.394 slash line, but he struggled mightily in 2023 with a .219/.318/.333 slash line in only seventy-six games.
St. Louis also reached agreements with three other relievers: right-hander Andrew Kittredge for $2,262,500, left-hander JoJo Romero, and left-hander John King. Romero and Kittredge figure to be key pitchers in the back end of the bullpen, and John King will likely see work in the middle innings of games.
Salary figures will be updated as they are reported.
All contracts, excluding Andrew Kittredge's, that were signed had salary figures higher than originally estimated which could explain why Bill DeWitt III was non-committal when asked about adding large contracts via free agency or trade to the 2024 payroll. MLB Trade Rumors posted their predictions a few months back, and each of the players whom the Cardinals signed exceeded those predictions.
The Cardinals couldn't reach an agreement with utility man Tommy Edman (projected $6.5 million per MLB Trade Rumors). Edman, who will be a free agent after the 2025 season, will go to a hearing with the Cardinals unless a multi-year deal is reached, which is possible. The two parties will exchange salary figures by tonight, according to John Denton. Edman's hearing is the team's first with a position player since Tyler O'Neill's in 2022.
Edman filled in admirably in center field last year down the stretch, and he is able to play shortstop and second base handily. He has a career 100 OPS+ with a slash line of .265/.319/.408. His defensive versatility is his calling card, but he is still capable at the plate.