With the 11 p.m. deadline approaching for teams to offer 2012 contracts to arbitration-eligible players, the Cardinals and utililtyman Skip Schumaker agreed to a two-year deal tonight. Meanwhile, the club did not tender a contract to Ryan Theriot, a regular for most of the season at shortstop, making him a free agent.
The Cardinals did tender contracts to righthanded pitchers Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte, both of whom figure to be part of the Cardinals' bullpen for next season, with Motte slated to be the closer.
Schumaker, the Cardinals' 2011 regular second baseman who started Game 7 of the World Series in center field, would have been eligible for free agency after next season if he hadn't got the two-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed. But, according to a source familiar with the situation, Schumaker, not envisioned as a regular player going into spring training, signed for less then the $4.7 million, two-year deal he completed this year.
The lefthanded-hitting Schumaker batted .283 in 117 games in 2011 and followed that by hitting .600 in 10 at-bats as the Cardinals bested the Philadelphia Phillies in the division series en route to their 11th World Series title.
General manager John Mozeliak said late tonight night that he envisioned Schumaker as a "super utility" player and that most of Schumaker's time actually would be spent in the outfield, where he would provide coverage at all three positions. Daniel Descalso, who played mostly at third base this season in his rookie year, apparently will get first call at second base next spring.
With the re-signing of shortstop Rafael Furcal to a two-year extension, the official announcement of which is likely to happen Tuesday after the results of Furcal's medical tests become available, the likelihood that the club would retain Theriot, who made $3.3 million this year, grew more unlikely. The Cardinals already have Tyler Greene as a reserve infielder.
"When you look at us being able to bring back Furcal and trying to give significant playing time to Tyler Greene," said Mozeliak, "it doesn't seem to be a time where (Theriot) was going to get adequate opportunities here."
Mozeliak still is believed to be seeking outfield and lefthanded bullpen help.
"We're working diligently to fill our holes," said Mozeliak, who said he didn't anticipate any more signings in the next 48 hours but possibly by the end of the week.