You remember how we spent a lot of time talking about the craziness of the Cardinals going to arbitration with their best pitcher? You know how we said it sounded like John Mozeliak had taken an extension off the table, that they were plowing full speed ahead to this confrontation with their ace? Well, in the words of a famous broadcaster,
According to Jon Heyman, tomorrow the Cardinals will announce a five-year, $51 million extension with Carlos Martinez. This would buy out all of Martinez’s arbitration years and a couple of his free agency seasons as well. You may be thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like a bargain.” The reason that you are thinking that to yourself is because it IS a ridiculously good deal for the club. Here are some other pitchers that made around $10 million last year:
Now, that’s a pretty good group of players. However, Arrieta moves up to over $15 million this year and becomes a free agent after that. Strasburg signed a seven-year, $175 million deal during the season. Bumgarner is actually in a similar situation as Martinez, as he’ll get $11.5 this year, $12 in ’18 and ’19, and then become a free agent. All in all, Martinez is going to be a great pitcher at a great price going forward.
As for Martinez, his career earnings to this point were just over $1.5 million, so this is a huge step up for him as well. It also allows him to make sure he gets more of that money sooner. He could have gone to arbitration over the next three seasons, but it seems unlikely he’d get over $30 million that way, especially since this year the most he could get was just over $4 million. It does delay his free agency, but let’s be honest, Mo’s not had the greatest luck with short-term pitcher contracts (though that’s mainly relievers) due to injuries. At least this way if, heaven forbid, Martinez does get hurt during this contract, the Cards should get a good number of seasons out of him before, after, or around him missing time.
It’s a win for both sides, I think. This also should allow the Cardinals a bit more money (or at least budget certainty) if they do try to make a major push for a free agent like Manny Machado in the next few years. Which probably was part of their thinking as well.
If nothing else, I’m glad that Carlos is not only staying in St. Louis for the foreseeable future but that they’ll avoid a hearing with him. I doubt Michael Wacha, however, is as fortunate, but it’s possible Mo might step back from that hard line with just one case out there. Martinez’s hearing was scheduled for February 8, so I would assume Wacha’s would be around that time as well, leaving not a lot of time for things to get resolved and that streak to extend.
Congratulations to Carlos and to the Cardinals. Having Martinez and Alex Reyes in the same rotation for the next five years is an astounding thing to think about!