St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has received considerable praise in recent months. After all, he leads a very successful franchise that includes a top-rated farm system.
One of the underrated contributors to the Cardinals success, in my opinion, is the team moving quickly to ensure core contributors are signed to long-term contracts well before they reach free agency.
We have seen it time and time again – with home-grown Cardinals like Yadier Molina, Jaime Garcia and Allen Craig. When the deals were done, the organization took some risk in typically paying a bit more up front, while ensuring the players will remain longer under what will end up as being reasonable salaries in the later years.
In most every case, these contracts – criticized by some on day one – end up looking very good from the team perspective as the overall market values of players increase over time.
In some cases, such as with Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals actually executed this maneuver twice. The most recent contract was settled last spring, a season prior to free agency. The right-hander will receive $97.5 million in a new five-year deal that will cover the 2014-2018 seasons.
I thought about this once again as I read a recent article about the Cardinals’ most consistent rival in the National League Central over the last few years, the Cincinnati Reds.
Compare and contrast the approach of the two organizations in getting their top young pitchers locked up.
Reds star Homer Bailey, 27, is third-year arbitration eligible and can become a free agent for the first time following the 2014 season. For those who forgot, the power right-hander has thrown a no-hitter in each of the last two seasons and is still improving.
Yet, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty seems to be preparing his team’s fans for the worst, noting Bailey is going to be “most difficult” to sign.
Arroyo is still on the market, but the 36-year-old right-hander apparently will play elsewhere next season. As recently as a week ago, Jocketty made it clear he has no money to sign a free agent of Arroyo’s stature.
This serves as just one more reminder that Cardinals fans should be thankful for the ownership and management in place as well as an encouraging sign for the future battles between these two divisional rivals.