photo: Steven Matz (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals wanted a left-hander to step into the middle of their rotation. They got their man late Tuesday night when free agent Steven Matz agreed to terms on a four-year contract. The deal is pending a physical examination, after which point the Cardinals should announce the signing. First to break the story was Jeff Passan of ESPN.
The base contract is for $44 million which includes a $2 million signing bonus guaranteed plus $1 million additional per season possible in incentives based on innings pitched. National reporter Jon Heyman is this source.
Matz, 30, moved from his original team, the New York Mets, to the Toronto Blue Jays in trade last Jaunary. He led the Jays staff in 2021 with 14 wins and a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts, fanning 144 in 150 2/3 innings.
In six of his seven MLB seasons, Matz’ ground ball rate has been in the 45% to 51% range, including 45.5% with the Jays last season. That should be an advantage pitching in Busch Stadium with the strong St. Louis defense behind him.
The Cardinals especially wanted a left-hander in the 2022 rotation with the departure via free agency of lefty starters Wade LeBlanc, J.A. Happ, Jon Lester and Kwang-Hyun Kim. With the move, St. Louis’ 40-man roster is at 37.
A key factor in the choice is that the Blue Jays had declined to extend Matz the $18.4 million qualifying offer for a one-year contract. That means St. Louis can sign him without draft pick penalties.
Matz had earlier turned down a three-year offer to remain with Toronto and his agent fielded bids from at least six other clubs. That includes his former team, the Mets, whose owner felt for some reason that he incorrectly had rights of final approval. Others making offers were Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, the Cubs and the Angels, per Heyman.
The Cardinals made the deal official on Monday afternoon, November 29th.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 29, 2021
Heyman provided the contract details.
St. Louis Cardinals
Signing Bonus – $2M
$8M – 2022
$10M – 2023
$12M – 2024
$12M – 2025
Plus: $200K each for 130ip; 140ip; 150ip; 160ip; 170ip
Plus: $50K All Star
$50K Cy Young ($25K-2nd-5th)
$25K for LCS/MVP
$50K for WS/MVP
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 29, 2021
Other MLB free agent news
MLB and the Players’ Union have agreed to move the contract tender deadline from December 2 to November 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. This will allow arbitration-eligible players who are non-tendered to have the option of signing with a new club before the December 1 lockout begins. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this change.
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
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