This is the third of my series comparing recent actions of the Atlanta Braves to the St. Louis Cardinals. Atlanta had typically seemed to hold back in locking down young players from their arbitration years into early free agency. That has changed with the extensions given to first baseman Freddie Freeman, starting pitcher Julio Teheran and closer Craig Kimbrel.
On Valentine’s Day, the Braves announced they and Teheran had come to terms on a six-year contract, covering the 2014-2019 seasons, plus a club option for 2020. The base deal is for $32.4 million, with a $12 million salary or $1 million buyout for the option year.
What made this so striking is the fact that the Colombian native has less than two seasons of MLB service time – comparable to where Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal are sitting today. Teheran’s contract will cover either one or two of his free agent-eligible seasons.
The Cardinals already have long-term contracts in place with starters Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia. Michael Wacha is a year behind and Lance Lynn is a year ahead. The latter will almost certainly become first-time arbitration-eligible following the 2014 season.
What should the Cardinals do, if anything?
The Wainwright deal is golden, but was signed later on as he was nearing free agency. Garcia needs to come on to make his numbers work out over the long haul.
Even if the Cards wait a year, would it be the right time to invest in Miller or Rosenthal over a six-year period? They would still be one year away from arbitration. Note that Wainwright’s contract is the only five-year deal for a pitcher in team history. Six years would be uncharted water for the Cardinals.
How would it be perceived by Lynn if he was passed over? (Think of the Allen Craig-David Freese situation a year ago. Craig received the extension. Freese did not, and the latter was traded months later following a lackluster season.)
So, what do you think?