Cards agree to contracts with 24 youngsters

All St. Louis Cardinals players with less than three years of service time are now under contract for 2012. The group of two dozen includes nine players who appeared in the 2011 post-season.

On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals made their annual "came to agreement" announcement on contracts for the upcoming season with all of their under three-year players currently on the 40-man roster. The 24 players involved include starting centerfielder Jon Jay, injured outfielder Allen Craig and NLCS and World Series Most Valuable Player David Freese.

The announcement is but a formality since as long as the team pays the minimum, these players either have to accept the offer or not play. Once they approach three years of major league service, player salaries escalate toward market value via the arbitration process then ultimately, they are eligible to test free agency at six years of service.

All major league players should receive a hefty raise from 2011 thanks to an increase in the minimum salary from $414,000 last year to $480,000. This was included as part of the new collective bargaining agreement between players and owners that was announced in November. However, less than half of these 24 players will likely spend all of 2012 with St. Louis.

The full list of newly-signed Cardinals: Bryan Anderson, Mitchell Boggs, Matt Carpenter, Adron Chambers, Maikel Cleto, Allen Craig, Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, Brandon Dickson, Chuckie Fick, Sam Freeman, David Freese, Tyler Greene, Mark Hamilton, Jon Jay, Erik Komatsu, Pete Kozma, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, Adam Reifer, Shane Robinson, Marc Rzepczynski, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez.

Though the club does not announce financial terms on any contracts, the AP did disclose several players' deals for the upcoming season.

Third baseman Freese will make $508,000 in 2012 but in the unlikely event he is optioned to the minor leagues, his salary would drop to $249,600. Craig also has a split contract in which he will make $495,000 in the majors but $248,400 if he is optioned to the minor leagues. Outfielder Jon Jay's base salary is $504,000 in 2012.

A subset of the 24 youngsters also received a nice bonus last fall as the wild card Cardinals made their successful run through the playoffs. A full post-season share for St. Louis was worth $323,170. The players voted 51 full shares, 11.962 partial shares and eight cash awards.

Along with coaches and some of the support staff, full shares were voted to any player on the active roster during the postseason. That includes Boggs, Chambers, Craig, Descalso, Freese, Jay, Lynn, Rzepczynski and Salas from the list of 24.

With the announcement, all 39 players on the Cardinals 40-man roster, regardless of experience level, are now officially under contract for the 2012 season.

Looking ahead, three players are likely to become eligible for arbitration for the first time next winter and a fourth is possible. They are Boggs, Freese, Rzepczynski and perhaps Jay. As a result, their 2013 salaries would increase substantially by what could be several million dollars each.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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