After general manager John Mozeliak recently stated that it was not a priority for his St. Louis Cardinals to re-sign veteran reserve catcher Jason LaRue, it is precisely what the club has done.
The 35-year-old has agreed to terms on a one-year deal to return to St. Louis for his third season in 2010 and in doing so, becomes the first of nine Cardinals free agents to come to terms with any organization.
LaRue was paid $950,000 in 2009 and $850,000 the season prior. The AP reports his new contract is identical to last season's, which included a $50,000 bonus opportunity for starting 60 games.
The right-handed hitter originally joined the Cardinals as a free agent in November, 2007 after eight seasons with Cincinnati and one with Kansas City. LaRue’s first two years with the Cardinals are his only winning ones since having become a major leaguer in 1999.
The native Texan posted a line of .240/.288/.327 in 104 at-bats over 51 games in 2009. He started 26 games and batted .256 (22-for-86) when starting. While LaRue had only six RBI all season long, three of them were game-winners.
Overall, LaRue appeared in 43 games behind the plate, committing just one error and throwing out three of 13 baserunners attempting to steal.
With the departures of Mark DeRosa and Troy Glaus via free agency, LaRue is the only Cardinals position player over the age of 30 currently rostered.
Neither of the in-house alternatives at Triple-A Memphis, Matt Pagnozzi (good defense, but weak hitter) nor Bryan Anderson (power and defensive questions, good average) was apparently considered to be a serious candidate to take LaRue’s job in 2010.
With LaRue's re-signing, the Cardinals' 40-man roster now sits at 35.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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