Cards reach deal with Marquis
Right-hander avoids arbitration with one-year deal
ST. LOUIS -- Over the past 12 months, Jason Marquis has picked up all the following titles: Major League regular, 15-game winner, and most important of all, Dad. Now he has one more, one that follows from the first two and is sure to help out with the third: millionaire.
Marquis and the Cardinals agreed to a one-year contract worth a reported $3 million late on Sunday night, avoiding arbitration. According to The Associated Press, the deal includes incentives based on the number of innings the right-hander pitches and could be worth as much as $3.2 million.
Marquis, acquired from Atlanta in December 2003, flourished in his first season with the Redbirds, going 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 201 1/3 innings. He set personal bests in wins, starts (32), innings and strikeouts while recasting himself as a sinkerballing, ground-ball pitcher.
"I'm still the same guy," he told reporters at the Cards' Winter Warm-Up fan festival on Monday. "I'm out there to compete and prove I still belong. I'm not yet in the likes obviously of the guys I've played with -- [Greg] Maddux, [Tom] Glavine, [Matt] Morris -- who have the luxury of being 10-, 11-year vets, but those guys are still striving to compete and do their best.
"[My success] gives me a little peace of mind that I'm able to work on more things. I don't have to go out there and get guys out [in Spring Training] with my main pitch. I'm gonna try and work on different things and explore different options just in case my sinker may not be working that day. I'll work on other pitches in order to get other hitters out."
It's Marquis' first year of arbitration eligibility, and service time is a significant factor in an arbitrator's decision. That explains the lower value of the deal as compared to many of the contracts signed by free agent pitchers this offseason. The sharp spike in the market contributed to the team's reluctance to sign Marquis to a longer contract.
"We talked about it at one time, but I think right now we'll wait," general manager Walt Jocketty said on Sunday. "The market just kind of went crazy this year for pitchers. I don't think we want to right now go beyond this year. It might end up costing us, but I think it's best to wait and see if things flatten out at all."
Marquis was the subject of some trade rumors this offseason. His name reportedly came up in discussions between St. Louis and the A's over Oakland's Tim Hudson. Yet the Cards held on to him, acquiring Mark Mulder instead without relinquishing any remaining members of their 2004 rotation.
"It's something that happens to everybody over the course of their career," he said of the rumors. "It happened to me when I was in the minor leagues, it happened when I was in the big leagues with the Braves, and eventually [a trade] did happen.
"You've got to look at it as a lot of teams want you. You can't look at it the reverse way, that the Cardinals don't want you. Obviously they wanted me last year. I came over and had success. Sometimes you've got to tell yourself it's a business, and teams make decisions based on trying to stay under a certain salary. That's the way the business goes. You can't take it personally."
The move leaves St. Louis with only one remaining arbitration-eligible player, Rick Ankiel. The left-hander said Saturday that he hopes to have an agreement by the end of this week.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.