Cardinals Commit to Mikolas through 2023

photo: Miles Mikolas (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals have finalized a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the current leader of their pitching rotation, right-hander Miles Mikolas. The new deal covers 2020 through 2023.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday, February 26) that they have signed All-Star pitcher Miles Mikolas to a four-year (2020-23) contract extension.  Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Miles Mikolas

“We are extremely pleased to have Miles under contract for the foreseeable future,” stated Cardinals’ Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr.  “Miles made great contributions to our team as an All-Star last season, and he quickly fit in with his teammates and our fans. We look forward to having Miles serve as a key member of our pitching staff for the next five years.”

Mikolas, 30, was recently tabbed as the Cardinals 2019 Opening Day starter.  The Jupiter, Fla. native went 18-4 in his initial season with the Redbirds in 2018, co-leading the National League in wins while also posting the league’s top winning pct. (.818).  His perfect 10-0 mark in road games matched the best in Major League history for a pitcher with 10 or more road wins, joining Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (1995) and Jimmy Key (1994).

“Miles proved that his recent years in Japan were consistent with the projections we had for him upon his return to the Majors, and he took those to an even higher level with an All-Star season in 2018,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “This was an opportunity for Miles to train in his backyard here in Jupiter as well as pitch in front of family in St. Louis.  We are excited for him to be a part of the Cardinals for four additional years.”

After spending the 2015-17 seasons pitching for Yomiuri in the Japanese Central League, Mikolas signed a free-agent contract with the Cardinals in December of 2017, returning to the majors for the first time since 2014 when he made 10 starts for Texas.  Mikolas was a combined 31-13 in Japan with a 2.25 ERA in 62 starts for the Yomiuri Giants.

In addition to his top N.L. marks in wins and winning pct. in 2018,  Mikolas was also ranked among the Senior Circuit’s top performers in ERA (2.83-4th), innings pitched (200.2-6th) and starts (32-9th), and he paced the league in fewest walks/9 IP ratio (1.30), issuing just 29 free passes.

Mikolas was voted by his teammates as the recipient of the 2018 Darryl Kile Award, presented annually by the St. Louis Chapter of the BBWAA to the Cardinals player who best demonstrates the qualities of the late Darryl Kile by being a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.

Brian Walton’s take

Though Mikolas has just one standout MLB season under his belt, his prior success in Japan, which led to St. Louis signing him to his initial two-year contract at a bargain $15.5 million, should not be ignored when assessing his consistency.

Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Not a pitcher who relies on heat, Mikolas is a pitch master, and as such, may be less susceptible to a dramatic drop off in results as he ages. This contract extension will cover his ages 32 through 35 seasons.

In the first year of this deal, 2020, the Cardinals will likely be without current rotation members Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, both impending free agents. Carlos Martinez’ future remains cloudy due to his shoulder ailments, as well.

The Cardinals are betting that Mikolas, already named Opening Day starting pitcher in 2019 after his selection as a National League All-Star in 2018, will remain at the head of the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Here are the financial terms. Note that the first $1 million will be paid in this current year.

In 2020, Mikolas is slated to become the Cardinals’ highest annual salaried pitcher, taking that mantle from Martinez, who will make $11.5 million in 2019 (and each of the two seasons following). Prior to that, Wainwright was the club’s mound money leader, receiving $19.5 million in each of the prior five seasons.

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