The St. Louis Cardinals have re-signed infielder Aaron Miles to a one-year deal covering the 2008 season. The 31-year-old appeared at five different positions for the Cardinals last season, including his first Major League appearances in the outfield and as a pitcher.
According to the AP, the contract is structured as follows: a base salary of $1.4 million plus a possible $250,000 additional in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances.
Miles spent the 2006-2007 seasons with St. Louis following a trade with the Colorado Rockies after the 2005 season. Last year, the switch-hitter posted a .290/.328/.348 line (BA/OBP/SLG) over 414 at-bats in 133 games.
Acquired mainly to serve in a utility role, he instead was often pressed into the starting line-up with 202 starts at second base and shortstop in his 268 games played with the club. Miles led the team with 19 infield hits last season and five bunt hits.
“Aaron has shown a great deal of versatility with our club over the past two years,” commented Cardinals Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. “He has proven to be a quality player both as a starter and off the bench and the value of a player like Aaron who can play several positions and hit from both sides can not be understated.”
Yet, there is clearly a limit to his value. Miles became a free agent last month when the Cardinals chose not to tender him a contract for the 2008 season, avoiding the possibility of arbitration. Miles has just over four years service time in the Majors and earned $1 million last season plus $150,000 in bonuses.
He re-joins a very crowded middle infield competition. Adam Kennedy and Cesar Izturis are penciled in as starters at second base and shortstop, respectively. 2007 rookie Brendan Ryan is clearly in the mix as is veteran D’Angelo Jimenez, coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.
With apparently room for only three of them on the 2008 Cardinals opening day roster, at this point Ryan looks destined to be sent back to Memphis while Jimenez’ chances would seem to depend on a very hot bat and an injury or two to the others. Ryan, who turns 26 in March, appears to be the big loser in the Miles re-signing despite seemingly having the most upside of any of the combatants.
Three others who could man the middle infield are on the 40-man roster. Though primarily a third baseman, Brian Barden was claimed from the Diamondbacks last fall. Veteran Scott Spiezio is also more of a corner man, as well as an outfielder. Youngster Jarrett Hoffpauir was added to the roster this winter, but seems likely to return to Triple-A for more seasoning at second base.
The addition of Miles puts the Cardinals’ 40-man roster at 39 players.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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