The St. Louis Cardinals and pitcher Carlos Martinez have come to terms on a five-year, $51 million contract, as first reported by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and later confirmed by many others. This will cover all three of Martinez’ arbitration years plus two free agent seasons. Two additional options are included to further extend the contract potentially through 2023, per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. An announcement from the team is expected at 10:30 a.m. CT on Thursday.
Martinez, 25, had been arbitration-eligible for the first time, with a hearing scheduled on February 8, according to MLB.com. The pitcher had requested $4.25 million while the Cardinals offered $3.9 million on a one-year deal, but that hearing is now unnecessary.
Since joining the major league rotation, Martinez has been consistently strong, logging 3.01 and 3.04 ERAs over the last two seasons. In 2016, he posted a 16-9 record with a 174/70 strikeout to walk count over 195 1/3 innings. Martinez was The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Year both seasons, so for more detail, click here for 2015 and here for 2016.
Starting in 2017, the Cardinals announced a new arbitration policy as a file-and-trial team, meaning they would go to hearing with any player if there was no agreement prior to filing their respective one-year contract amounts. However, they did not say they would stop talking about a multi-year agreement, which proved to be the case with Martinez.
The $51 million contract will set a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility, Heyman said. Cleveland’s Corey Kluber held the prior record with a 5 year/$38.5 MM deal, signed two years ago. However, it is not entirely apples and apples. Kluber’s covers one year before arbitration and just one year after, but also has two option seasons at the end. For the comparable five years as Martinez, Kluber will make $49 MM. However, the Indians pitcher’s deal also has up to $4 MM of Cy Young Award incentives for the option years, which would be above the base value reported.
Based on what we know now, Martinez’ deal looks reasonable for the club, while providing considerable financial security to a player who has never made as much as $600,000 per year to date. This contract continues a Cardinals pattern of long-term deals at this point of their careers with key young players over the years, including Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter.
Michael Wacha will be the last of the Cardinals’ five remaining arbitration-eligible players to settle for 2017. The right-hander has requested $3.2 MM compared to the $2.775 million submission by the club. The specific date of his hearing this month has not yet been announced.
Others who previously settled are Matt Adams, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal. In addition, Seth Maness was non-tendered and remains a free agent.
Update Thursday morning
Heyman reported the contract details. Martinez will receive $4.5 MM in bonus and salary in 2017 and a flat $11.5 million in each of the 2018-2021 seasons. The club options for 2022 and 2023 are $17 MM and $18 MM respectively, with a $500,000 buyout for each year. That would make the stated value five years, $51 MM and a maximum of seven years, $85.5 MM. It looks to be a solid deal for both sides.
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