January 15, 2015

Cardinals lock up Lance Lynn for medium term; what's next?

Lance Lynn
I had suggested that the St. Louis Cardinals avoid arbitration with No. 2 starter Lance Lynn, and also buy out his first year of free agency, with something like a four-year, $50 million contract. The Cards' Derrick Gould hinted a few days ago that a deal was near, but thought 4/$50 might be too low.

Well, we were both a bit wrong.

Lynn apparently didn't want to sell out any of his free agency years, and the team didn't want to take any arbitration risks. So, they agreed to a three-year, $22 million deal, that could go to $23.5M if Lynn hits 2016 and 2017 performance benchmarks.

On Lynn's side, since he didn't get quite enough first-year play time to be a "Super 2" player, I can't blame him for not wanting this contract to include the first year of free agency.

From GM John Mozeliak's side, it still provides three years of contract benchmark, and lets him think about the longer-term future of Adam WainwrightCarlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales and other members of the rotation, as well as now calculating how much money the team has to spend on keeping Jason Heyward in a Redbirds uni past this year.

On that issue, let's remember that Mo front-loaded Jhonny Peralta's contract, and that the team has just two years of Matt Holliday left. Especially if the Cards' hitting staff works a few kinks out of Heyward's bat that Atlanta staff reportedly helped put in there, I think that he will be worth $20M a year or more, and given his relative youth, should be paid it. It's possible that, like some pitching contracts, it could include performance-based money, at least on the stick side.

Or, it lets Mo think more about signing Max Scherzer right now. I disagree with the move, whether at 7/$175 or something that could go higher. But,  if Mo wants him, it does give him more room to think. Or to further ponder trading for Cole Hamels, which I like more.

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