Cards extend relievers Franklin, Miller
Closer inked through '11, setup man to '10 with '11 option
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals got a head start on what figures to be an extremely busy winter on Tuesday when they announced that they had agreed to new contracts with relievers Ryan Franklin and Trever Miller.
Franklin signed a two-year deal for 2010 and 2011, taking the place of an option the club held on him for 2010. Miller's new deal is actually for 2009 and 2010, replacing his current '09 deal, and contains a vesting option for the 2011 season. The two deals mean that every member of the Cardinals' 2009 bullpen is under contract or at least under the team's control for next season.
"It's something that we've worked on for a while now in Franklin's case," said general manager John Mozeliak. "In Miller's situation, that came up a little quicker. But just recognizing their accomplishments and wanted to reward them both and thank them for their services. And more importantly, look to next year and keep some key members of that bullpen intact."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Franklin's new deal is "believed to be" worth about $6.5 million for the next two seasons. Franklin said that he receives a slight bump over the original $2.5 million value of the option in 2010, and the deal would increase in value beyond that for 2011.
Franklin has enjoyed the best season of his career in his first full year as the Redbirds' closer. If he repeats that performance in 2010, he might be in line for a big payday in 2011. Then again, if he gets hurt next year, he might be out of luck. So, he opted for security and a situation where he's very happy.
"I wouldn't say a hometown discount," Franklin said. "When you're making millions, it's not a discount. From where I'm from, my mom and dad are 60 and 64 years old and they're still working every day. So I'm pretty fortunate to be able to do what I've done and make what I've made. I enjoy it here, and sure, I took some less to play here, but that's fine with me. I've got no problem with that."
Miller, meanwhile, gets a new deal that essentially makes up for a strange sequence of events over the winter. He agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract with St. Louis during the offseason, but a physical exam revealed damage to his left labrum. Thus the deal was downgraded to a single year and $500,000, with incentives pushing the possible value of the pact to $2 million.
Under the new deal, according to a Major League source, the full $2 million of the 2009 deal is now guaranteed, as is a $2 million salary for 2010.
The source said that the vesting option is somewhat complicated. If Miller makes 45 appearances in 2010 and does not land on the disabled list for a left arm or shoulder injury, the option automatically vests at a value of $2 million. If he makes 45 appearances but does have a DL stint for his left arm or shoulder, the option essentially becomes a club option worth $2 million, with a $1 million buyout.
It's a happy ending for what was once a frustrating story for Miller.
"I just politely told [Mozeliak], these things have a way of working themselves out," Miller said. "I don't know what effect that had on him, obviously a positive one. They could have taken the contract away from me altogether, said, 'We're not comfortable with your shoulder, so better luck to you and see you down the road.' But they didn't. They gave me the opportunity and I was going to make sure that I earned the right to come back here."
With the bullpen fully squared away, the Cardinals can now begin pondering other elements of their 2010 roster. Several prominent players can be free agents, including Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Joel Pineiro and John Smoltz. Mozeliak said he'd be open to securing another deal or two before the season ends, but that nothing is in the works.
One intriguing name is Smoltz, who has impressed the club as a starter since signing earlier this month. While the Cardinals expect to go in-house for one starting rotation spot next year, with Mitchell Boggs and Jaime Garcia the leading candidates, that would still leave one more spot open. Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse are all signed for 2010.
Smoltz might represent a lower-cost, shorter-term option than Pineiro, which could free the Cardinals up to spend more on other players -- like Holliday.
"Clearly what he's done as a starter warrants more opportunities," Mozeliak said. "At some point we're going to have to do what's best for the club when we get to postseason, and obviously in a five-game series you look at it a little differently than a seven. But I'm just happy he's out there pitching well and being able to do what he's doing. There could be something there. There's probably going to be a need for one starter as we move forward."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.