Which outstanding 2024 Cardinals deserve an extension?

5 players in arbitration or pre-arbitration have shown themselves worthy of a contract extension soon. Who should get one?
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Signing JoJo Romero to an extension now would not be beneficial to the Cardinals.

JoJo Romero has probably been the Cardinals' most consistent and dependable reliever these last 2 years. In 2023, the lefty filled in for Ryan Helsley late in games while Helsley was injured, and Romero has been dominant in high-leverage situations this year as well. He's thrown 35.2 innings, the most among all relievers for the Cardinals, and he has a 2.78 ERA, 0.981 WHIP, an ERA+ of 149, and he leads the league with 24 holds this year.

If the Cardinals were to extend Romero, they would be able to boast a left-handed reliever who can pitch late in games and hold a lead; those guys don't grow on trees. However, signing relievers to extensions isn't common to start, and signing 2 relievers to extensions is virtually unheard of. If the front office has to pick between Ryan Helsley and JoJo Romero to extend, the former makes more sense.

Romero still has two more years of team control after 2024, so there's really no rush to extend him. Perhaps after next season, they can revisit the conversation, but Romero isn't making $1 million in his first year of arbitration this year, and his salary likely won't exceed $7 million at any point in arbitration. He's cheap, he's controllable, and he's dominant. There's no need to change one of those factors just because the team has the chance to do so.

Not extending Romero now doesn't preclude the team from doing so later; there's just no rush to do it now. Relievers can be fickle. Pitch Romero now while he's relatively cheap and then extend him later to ensure bullpen continuity if he continues to provide quality innings in key situations.