At Tuesday night’s deadline, the Cardinals elected to not tender 2007 contracts to outfielder Rick Ankiel and pitcher Jorge Sosa. Outfielder So Taguchi and pitcher Randy Flores were tendered and are eligible for arbitration.
In my November 24 article, ”Love Me (Non) Tender”, I described the process leading up to the December 12 non-tender date, to whom it applies and what happens next.
The Cardinals made their decision on the five eligible players on Tuesday night. These are players with just under three years of major league service up to those with just under six years time.
Actually, in one case, the player made the call instead of the team as utility infielder Aaron Miles agreed to a one-year deal for $1 million plus plate appearance bonuses that could add another $250,000.
||Re-sign minor lg deal?|
||Re-sign or arbitration|
||Signed 1 yr/$1M
||Re-sign or arbitration|
These players do not need to declare anything. From here on out, the ones who were offered will be negotiating with the club and may likely sign before the date when arbitration figures are exchanged in January. They can continue to negotiate beyond that point, including for multi-year contracts.
But, once it goes to an arbitration hearing in February, it becomes a one-year contract with no incentives. The amount chosen will either be the player’s submitted amount or the owner’s.
Those not offered are free agents, able to re-sign with the Cardinals or any other organization of their choosing. Sosa and Ankiel leaving put the Cardinals 40-man roster at 38.
Miles, 29, appeared in 135 games for the Cardinals last season, batting .265 with 30 RBI. He started 71 games at second base, including Opening Day, and started 31 games at shortstop over the season's final two months while filling in for the injured David Eckstein. The switch-hitter batted .291 versus left-handed pitchers and had a team-high 21 infield hits. He tied the club Opening Day record with four hits, falling a home runs shy of hitting for the cycle.
Taguchi, 37, a member of the Cardinals since 2002, batted .266 in 134 games while leading the team with 11 stolen bases. Taguchi enjoyed a terrific postseason run, blasting home runs in each of his first two at-bats, including a decisive shot in the ninth inning of Game Two of the National League Championship Series at New York.
Flores, 31, appeared in a career-high 65 games in 2006 and finished second on the club with 20 holds. He was unscored-upon throughout the postseason, allowing no runs in seven appearances (5-2/3 IP) and was credited with the win in the decisive Game Seven of the NLCS versus New York.
Sosa, 28, was 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA in 19 appearances for the Cardinals following his July 31 trade from Atlanta to St. Louis, after the Braves had designated him for assignment. Sosa was left off the playoff roster in every round. His 2006 salary of $2.2 million was out of skew with his contribution level.
Ankiel, 27, missed the entire 2006 season due to a left knee injury suffered in spring training. There is some risk in non-tendering him, but his removal from the 40-man now avoids having to expose him to outright waivers this spring if he fails to make the big club. The hope is to sign him to a minor-league deal.
In addition, here are the players with less than three years of service who are under full team control and must accept whatever minimum salary or above the Cardinals decide to give them.
Joining the arbitration-eligible list next off-season will be Hancock and Molina.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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