What happened. The St. Louis Cardinals agreed to terms with their remaining salary arbitration eligible players. OF Marcell Ozuna will get $9 million per Jon Heyman, RHP Michael Wacha will get $5.3 million per Derrick Goold, and LHP Tyler Lyons will get $1.2 million on their one year deals to avoid arbitration.
The story. This afternoon was the deadline for teams and players to exchange their salary information. For the Cardinals, they told players last winter that their intent was to operate under a “file-and-trial” system, meaning once salary numbers were exchanged, they would be done negotiating a settlement offer and would see them in the arbitration hearing. The Cardinals took Wacha to hearing last year.
The numbers. Marcell Ozuna, 27, had a breakout year for the Marlins last year hitting .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI in his fourth full season in the big leagues. His 142 wRC+ was 13th among qualified hitters in the Majors last season. He also took home the Gold Glove Award for his work in left field. He was acquired from the Marlins for four prospects in December.
Michael Wacha, 26, was the unlucky soul that got to be made an example of when the club took him to arbitration and won last February. He answered with a 4.13 ERA over 165.2 innings and 30 starts. He saw a fair amount of improvement over 2016 and posted a better fielding independent season than his All Star campaign in 2015. The biggest thing may have been taking the ball 30 times last year and posting his first career complete game shutout.
Tyler Lyons, 29, pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for St. Louis last season and responded with a 2.83 ERA over 54 innings of work, including a 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings after July 7th. By the end of the season he had worked his way in as one of the bullpen’s most important relievers.
The impact. 5/10. Same as yesterday. Nothing here was utterly ground shaking. All the players involved were already under contract for 2018, the only part left to determine was how much the players would be paid. We’re still waiting on that information, but it has been reported that all three have signed one year deals.
After going through arbitration last season, I was a little surprised that Wacha and his representation cut it so close to experiencing it again. Unless, perhaps he decided that it wasn’t too bad and why not give it another shot. But they did not, and as a result Wacha will earn $5.3 million in 2018 after being projected to make $5.9 million.
For Ozuna, it was unlikely that the Cardinals wanted to take their prized offseason acquisition to arbitration as their first official act. It was expected that his agent, Scott Boras, might try to use that bit of leverage to their advantage, but Ozuna settled with the Cardinals for $9 million in salary after being projected to earn $10.9 million through arbitration and Khris Davis settling for $10.5 million yesterday while Ozuna is expected to be the more valuable player.
For Lyons, I wondered if the Cardinals with his performances in relief over his career and the escalating salaries of relief pitching if they might try to buy out some of his arbitration years this winter. That will not be the case with him agreeing to a $1.2 million salary in his first trip through arbitration after being projected to earn $1.3 million.