Cardinals Near Signing Schmidt? Not Likely

According to numerous sources the St. Louis Cardinals are targeting free agent starting pitcher, Jason Schmidt, who is likely to get anywhere from a $60 million dollar deal for four years to $70 million for five years, meaning that a deal with St. Louis on the surface, is not very likely.

MLB.com's Matthew Leach, has reported that the Cardinals consider themselves serious players for free-agent right-hander Jason Schmidt. Randy Hendricks, one of Schmidt's agents, sees it the same way.

Leach added, Hendricks acknowledged that despite a couple of perceived hindrances to a deal, Schmidt wouldn't mind being a Cardinal. He said that Schmidt's preference to remain on the West Coast is real, but has been overblown, and that the Cardinals' reluctance to offer a pact of more than three years would not be a problem.

It's believed and has been reported that Schmidt would prefer to play on the West Coast, though it is obvious that the door still remains open to receive offers from the Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals from the Midwest.

"There's a question of how far we go, but we're going," St. Louis Cardinals Vice President and General Manager Walt Jocketty said. "We'd like to have him."

The Cardinals will have to be very creative to come up with some kind of offer to counter with the other top bidders. In this market, Schmidt could see contract offers ranging from as high as $60 million for four years to even $70 million for a five year deal.

According to one major league team executive interested in the pitcher, "The bidding for Jason Schmidt has soared past $11 million per season for three or four years."

Traditionally there has been a reluctance of the Cardinals to sign pitchers to deals longer than three years and that poses a significant problem in their pursuit of Schmidt at the winter meetings.

There were reports that were later denied, that Schmidt received a three-year, $44 million contract offer from the Cubs about a week ago.

I'm not sure if the Cub's offer was made or not, but a three year deal in the $44 million dollar range for Schmidt is probably even a little too rich for the Cardinals blood. After all, St. Louis just signed Carpenter to basically a three year extension that includes, an additional option year. Carpenter will earn $8.5 in 2007 during the final year of his current deal and $10.5 million in 2008, the option year of his current deal and then $44.5 million over the next three seasons.

I can't see the Cardinals giving Schmidt, Chris Carpenter type money. I would expect St. Louis to start negotiations with an offer to Schmidt for three years in the $30-$33 million range and that is a far cry from what it is probably going to take to sign him to a deal.

Looking at the market conditions for pitchers this winter, Jayson Stark from ESPN has reported; that Gil Meche (career ERA: 4.65) is asking for 40 million bucks for four years. Ditto Ted Lilly (career record: 59-58, 4.60 ERA).

Vicente Padilla -- traded by the Phillies last winter (just before they were about to non-tender him) for a guy they later released -- agreed to a three-year, $34 million lottery payout from the Rangers on Monday and there were some unconfirmed reports/rumors that the Cardinals were looking at Padilla and had even offered him a four year deal, which would be a little out of character for St. Louis.

Adam Eaton -- a man who has never won a dozen games in a season -- got three years and $24.5 million just last week from the Phillies.

Schmidt, the 33 year old right-hander went 11-9 for the Giants last season and he has averaged 30 starts, 14 wins, 200 innings and 200 strikeouts over the last five seasons with San Francisco Giants and that means you won't find him on this year's Baseball Winter Meetings' discount shelf.

Schmidt, who is considered along with Barry Zito as one of the two best free-agent pitchers still available on the market, is also reportedly being courted by the Dodgers, Cubs, Padres, Brewers and Mariners, and possibly other clubs as well

Based on the current market conditions, unless Schmidt choose to pitch for Cardinals knowing that they are perennial contender over the all-mighty dollar, it doesn't appear he's is likely to sign with St. Louis.

 

 

UPDATE - 12/06/06 - 12:40 PM CT

The Dodgers have landed the biggest free-agent pitching prize to date, reaching a preliminary agreement on a three-year, $47 million contract with right-hander Jason Schmidt, FOXSports.com has learned.

Schmidt, 33, chose the Dodgers over the Cardinals and Mariners, both of whom were seeking to add him to the top of their rotation.


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