12 Cardinals Agree to 2006 Contracts

Youngsters come to terms on deals for the 2006 season.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Friday that they have agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2006 season with the following 12 players:

Left-handed pitchers Carmen Cali, Randy Flores, Chris Narveson and Tyler Johnson; Right-handed pitchers Juan Mateo and Adam Wainwright; Outfielders Chris Duncan, John Gall, Reid Gorecki and Skip Schumaker; and Infielders Travis Hanson and Brendan Ryan.

This is basically a formality, as none have enough major league experience to negotiate their own terms.

The minimum these players can make as a major leaguer in 2006 is $327,000, which is up 3.5% from last season. The increase is based on a cost of living formula built into the Basic Agreement between players and ownership that was put into place in 2001.

For players on the 40-man roster for at least the second year with at least one day of major league service, the minimum minor league salary for 2006 is $54,500.

Among the players who have not yet come to terms include Yadier Molina and So Taguchi. But, at this stage of their careers, the "negotiations" really only have to do with them feeling good about what is inevitable via what might be considered the last bastion of how contracts used to be done in the "old days".

Having less than three years of service means that if necessary, the Cardinals can unilaterally renew their contracts. If the players haven't come to terms by March 2, the Cardinals can impose their will between then and March 11.

Teams often define a set salary structure for these players with less than three years of service. To induce the player to sign, the team might offer an above-scale deal or one with incentives, for example, while at the same time hinting that the renewal amount that would be coming in March if they don't sign now just might be less than the offer on the table.

Of course, this all changes with three years of service and the advent of arbitration. But, for now, these players have no real leverage. So, we'll report it when the final members of the 2006 Cardinals sign, but it will undoubtedly be as anti-climactic as these announcements.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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