Non-tender deadline approaching
The Cardinals have until 10:59 p.m. CT today to tender* contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, a group that includes the following five: reliever Edward Mujica, closer Jason Motte, reliever Marc Rzepczynski, third baseman David Freese and reliever Mitchell Boggs.
(*On an aside, I often get questions about the meaning of the word tender. It’s essentially a fancy baseball term for offer. That simple. But in baseball lingo, it is the appropriate word to use when describing team’s making contract decisions for arbitration-eligible players.)
General manager John Mozeliak said a while ago that he anticipates tendering contracts to all five, so it will only be newsworthy if the team changes course for whatever reason. That’s not anticipated. Once the formality of tendering contracts is passed, then comes the chore of negotiating. If you missed it last week, here is a link to a cardinals.com story that addresses the specific salary considerations for each.
As the team did last winter with Skip Schumaker, it could consider making a multi-year offer to increase the number of years of control of a player and avoid potential future arbitration situations. Giving multi-year contracts to relievers has long been proven to be the most risky, and that’s certainly going to come into play as the Cardinals decide what to do with Motte, who will have another year of arbitration eligibility after this one. His salary is escalating rapidly.
Any player tendered a contract but unable to reach a deal by Jan. 18 will exchange his desired salary figure with the club on that date. Negotiations can then continue until a player’s arbitration hearing, which would come in February. If a such a hearing is needed, the arbiter’s decision is binding. Also know that there is no middle ground struck in such a hearing. Either the player’s salary figure or the team’s salary figure is chosen. And that’s the non-negotiable end.
Also, remember that while the Cardinals are not expected to non-tender any of their players by the end of the day, other clubs will. As a result, the free agent pool will deepen. That will give the organization several other players to consider as it attempts to fill various holes this winter.
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