Cardinals’ Four Arb-Eligible Players File

The first step in setting 2015 salaries for four St. Louis Cardinals players occurred on Monday with more to come.

On Tuesday, players with just under three and less than six years of Major League service time without contract amounts decided for 2015 were required to file with MLB for salary arbitration, a necessary formality.

The list of 175 such players includes four St. Louis Cardinals: Jon Jay, Tony Cruz, Peter Bourjos and Lance Lynn. (Newly-acquired Jordan Walden would also have been eligible, but came to terms on a two-year deal last month.)

By this Friday, each side, player and team, are required to exchange and submit their proposed salary for 2015. As the size of the gulf between the two sides’ set positions become known, negotiations on one-year deals or longer extensions, which can occur any time throughout the process, often intensify.

Most cases result in agreements, some earlier and some later, but the end is relatively near. Arbitration hearings to settle on a one-year amount will take place in February if the two sides cannot find a compromise.

Lynn is the one of the group most likely to receive a multi-year contract offer, but negotiations may be tricky. Even on a one-year deal, Lynn is estimated by MLB Trade Rumors to be in line for a $5.5 million salary, a new record for a first-time arbitration-eligible starting pitcher.

In a reminder that no pitchers come without risk, it is Dontrelle Willis who set the current first-year record of $4.35 million in 2006. The lefty never again posted a winning record in the Majors and last pitched in the bigs in 2011 at the age of 29.

Though every team had at least two arbitration filers, the Cardinals’ Central Division opponents are facing even more escalating salaries than most. The Pirates have the largest number of eligible players in MLB with 12. The Cubs have seven, the Reds five, while the Brewers have just two.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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