Ankiel settles for $2.825 million prior to hearing

As has now been reported all over the internet, just prior to their scheduled Thursday arbitration hearing, the St. Louis Cardinals and outfielder Rick Ankiel came to terms on a one-year contract for $2.825 million. There is no word on whether there are any additional incentives.

That represents the midpoint between the $3.3 million Ankiel and agent Scott Boras requested and the $2.35 million the Cardinals originally offered. The 29-year-old pitcher-turned-outfielder hit 25 home runs in 413 at-bats in his first season as a full-time outfielder in the majors in 2008. The left-handed hitter can become a free agent following the 2009 season.

Even in compromise, Ankiel came out a winner. The increase of $1.85 million is 190%, or just under twice the amount of his 2008 salary of $975,000. Put another way, Ankiel came just $100,000 short of tripling his previous season’s pay.

In a press release Thursday, Cardinals’ Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak said, “We are excited to get this deal done and put the process behind us. Everyone felt that this agreement was fair to both parties and we can now look forward to another strong season of play from Rick.”

I am surprised, but positively so. I had expected the two sides to battle it out and let the arbiters decide. Instead, settling at the midpoint seems most fair for both sides. It is refreshing to see the arbitration process work as designed – to encourage compromise rather than conflict.

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick is the last of the five Cardinals arbitration-eligible players to come to terms. His hearing is scheduled in Phoenix next Tuesday, February 17. Ludwick has requested $4.25 million while the Cardinals have offered $2.8 million.