Cardinals Finalize 2020 Contract Terms with Pre-Arbitration Players

photo: Jack Flaherty (Sam Navarro/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Sunday, March 8) that they have agreed to terms and signed one-year contracts for the 2020 season with 24 players.  The team also announced that it has renewed the contract of pitcher Jack Flaherty.

Agreeing to terms among the team’s 0 to 3 Major League service time players were pitchers John Brebbia, Génesis Cabrera, Junior Fernandez, Giovanny Gallegos, Austin Gomber, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Dakota Hudson, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Alex Reyes, Ricardo Sánchez, Alvaro Seijas, Tyler Webb and Jake Woodford, catcher Andrew Knizner, infielders Tommy Edman, Elehuris Montero, Rangel Ravelo and Edmundo Sosa and outfielders Harrison Bader, Austin Dean, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas and Justin Williams.

Brian Walton’s take

For the second consecutive year, the staff ace Flaherty chose not to agree to the team’s offer in protest, but he still must accept it if he wants to play in 2020. So he will.

Jack Flaherty

All players who are not yet arbitration-eligible (which comes shortly before three seasons in the majors) are bound to salaries as determined by their teams. The primary requirement is that the players make above the MLB minimum salary of $563,500 this coming season.

The Cardinals use a preset salary scale driven by formulas for these pre-arbitration players, but their pay is relatively close to the base. As is the case for many prominent players in this population across MLB, their actual pay is far below their market value. Teams contend this reflects their investment made in developing these players through the minor leagues.

Flaherty is one of many players across the game who have been vocal in their concerns over the current salary structure. This is expected to be a major point of contention in the negotiations between players and owners on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, to go into effect following the 2021 season.

This should also serve as yet another in a series of reminders to those Cardinals fans who expect the team to lure Flaherty into signing a long-term extension. It takes two to tango and there is no indication that Flaherty would be interested in giving up his financial leverage any time soon. I expect him to wait until the new CBA terms are set before even considering any long-term deal.

Until then, I look for a series of one-year deals each spring, perhaps with an arbitration hearing required to set his annual salary amount. Flaherty will become first-time arbitration-eligible next spring. If anyone is well-positioned to bet on himself improving each year – on the field and at the bargaining table – it is Flaherty. The right-hander has four more seasons under team control before being able to taste free agency – at least under today’s rules.

I recommend that those who are over-anxious now re-set your expectations accordingly. This is likely to be an annual occurrence.

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