photo: John Gant (Michael McLoone/Imagn)
Less than 24 hours after the St. Louis Cardinals made first baseman-outfielder Rangel Ravelo and arbitration-eligible pitcher John Brebbia free agents, the club came to terms with their most experienced arb-eligible player, John Gant. The right-hander was among five eligible Cardinals to be tendered a 2021 contract on Wednesday.
The news was first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.
Right-handed reliever John Gant has agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract with the #STLCards, avoiding arbitration. The contract is fully guaranteed.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2020
The 28-year old is two days into his fifth calendar year as a Cardinal, having been acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Jaime Garcia trade on December 1, 2016. He was a swing man prior to 2019, when he became a full-time reliever.
Even though Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon eased into the long relief-spot starter job, Gant became a valued member of the bullpen.
In his last full season, 2019, Gant led the National League in inducing hitters to ground into a double play (13) and topped all MLB relievers with 11 wins. He also was fifth in the NL in the lowest rate of home runs allowed.
He continued to excel in 2020, holding batters to a collective .088 batting average (3-for-34) with two strikes. Gant stranded all five inherited batters and did not yield a home run during the season (61 batters faced). He missed the playoffs due to a groin strain that put him on the injured list at the end of September.
Earlier published estimates from MLB Trade Rumors estimated Gant’s 2021 salary had he gone to arbitration to be in the range of $1.5 million to $1.9 million. This is his second of three arb-eligible years before reaching free agency at six years of MLB service time, which he is on track to achieve following the 2022 season.
Gant’s full season salary base in 2020 was $1.3 million. (Like all other players, he only received the prorated portion of 37%, tied to the number of games scheduled, 60.)
Four other arbitration-eligible Cardinals are committed to play for the team in 2021, but unlike Gant, their salaries have not yet been set. They are outfielder Harrison Bader plus pitchers Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks. See the dates below for their potential timelines.
Key arbitration dates
January 15 – Eligible players who have not yet agreed on a 2021 salary and their team are both required to submit their desired salary amount. They are encouraged to continue negotiating and many come to terms once this point is reached and all the cards are on the table.
February – Individual player hearings are held if the two sides are still apart. If the arbitrator hears the case, he/she must decide between the two submitted amounts. There is no middle ground. In other words, once the hearing begins, there will be a clear winner and loser. The hearing result is binding, meaning that the arbitrator’s choice will be the player’s salary in 2021.
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