The Cardinals have renewed the contract of right-hander Jack Flaherty for the 2020 season, as per a team announcement. Flaherty was the only one of 25 pre-arbitration players on the Cards’ roster who didn’t agree to terms on a contract for the coming season, and thus the team will impose Flaherty’s salary for 2020.
That number will work out to $604.5K, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals’ internal formula for calcuating pre-arb raises based on merit awarded Flaherty some extra money beyond the $563.5K minimum salary for his outstanding numbers in 2019, including a special $10K bonus for his fourth-place finish in NL Cy Young Award voting. However, that $10K was canceled out by a $10K penalty that the Cardinals impose on any pre-arbitration player who doesn’t come to an agreement.
This is the second consecutive season that Flaherty has had his contract renewed rather than come to an agreement, which the righty told reporters was a matter of “principle.” As a reminder, whether or not a player agrees to his pre-arb salary or gets his contract renewed, it doesn’t have any bearing on his roster status. Flaherty will still be suiting up as the Cardinals’ probable Opening Day starter, and he doesn’t appear to have any hard feelings about the situation.
“It’s just kind of the product of the system that we have,” Flaherty told reporters. “Can’t really do much. They’re going to play within what they’re allowed to do in the system. It’s not them. I can’t fault them for doing that. The system is what it is, and it’s not the best.”
Perhaps more notably, it doesn’t seem like the Cardinals and Flaherty’s made any headway towards a long-term contract extension, let alone his 2020 pact. The two sides “were not able to find common ground for the discussion of an extension going into this spring training,” Goold writes. Flaherty is still under team control through the 2023 season, so there isn’t any immediate rush for St. Louis to get Flaherty locked up, though the right-hander’s long-term price tag will only go up if he enjoys another good season in 2020.
The lack of an agreement on a pre-arb deal also doesn’t necessarily mean that a multi-year extension isn’t eventually possible. Just last offseason, the Rays renewed Blake Snell’s deal for the 2019 campaign and then inked him to a five-year, $50MM extension only days later. The Cardinals have long been proactive in giving extensions, both early-career deals to impressive young players and then secondary extensions to veterans (i.e. Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright) who have established themselves as franchise cornerstones.