12:45 p.m. Friday update:
The Cardinals announced that relief pitchers Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica agreed to one-year contracts today, avoiding arbitration. The team exchanged salary figures with the other players who filed for arbitration: closer Jason Motte, third baseman David Freese and reliever Marc Rzepczynski.
Boggs signed a one-year deal worth $1.475 million. Mujica, who will be eligible for free agency at the end of the year, signed a one-year, $3.2-million contract.
There is momentum for a deal with Jason Motte after the team and player exchanged figures. The club submitted $4.5 million as its offer, and Motte's representative suggested a salary of $5.5 million. Marc Rzepczynski's exchange was even closer: the club offered $900,000 and the player's representative countered at $1.3 million. The previously reported figure of $1.1 million was the midpoint, which can often be the target of a finalized deal.
The widest gap was Freese. The player's agent submitted a salary at $3.75 million. The club filed a salary offer of $2.4 million.
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Our earlier story on the Cardinals and salary arbitration:
ST. LOUIS • It has already become one of the most ubiquitous phrases in baseball coverage the past couple days, and it's only beginning. Brace yourself for a wave of stories that include these three words:
To. Avoid. Arbitration.
This afternoon is the deadline for teams and all arbitration-eligible players to exchange their salary requests, and that has a way of cutting through the conversation and sparking deals. In the past, the Cardinals have gone to this point with a player just to see what the agent puts down as the salary target on the player's side — and then, with that in writing, swoop in with an offer.
A year ago, Jason Motte's agent submitted a salary request of $2.4 million. The Cardinals filed a salary offer of $1.5 million. A few days later, the two sides agreed on a $1.95-million deal — right at the midpoint.
The exchange of salaries is a way for the team to get at least a peek at the other side's cards: what does the agent think he/she can really get in a hearing — not just in a negotiation?
One of the players said that his agent is waiting to see the Cardinals' offer this afternoon to see if that gets them closer to an agreement that could happen quickly after that.
The Cardinals have five players who are eligible for arbitration:
Jason Motte, closer
Mitchell Boggs, eighth inning
Marc Rzepczynski, lefty
Edward Mujica, seventh inning
David Freese, third baseman
On Thursday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that the discussions with the five players were "all still in progress." Several of the players spoken to individually said that they expected to avoid a hearing, but that nothing was imminent as far as an agreement. Most of the discussions, according to players or sources with knowledge of the talks, are about one-year deals.
Boggs, who was named to Team USA on Thursday, said he isn't sure a deal will be done by this weekend's Winter Warm-Up, but he described how "there isn't a reason for any holdups at this point."
Freese called it the "business" part of the game and said that all it takes is time. He didn't expect talks between the Cardinals and his agent to drag them toward a hearing.
Hearings would take place starting in February.
The Cardinals have not gone to a hearing with a player since 1999.
It's important to note that all five of these players are already considered under contract with the Cardinals for 2013. The arbitration process, today's exchange of figures, and all of these ongoing talks are simply to set the players salary. Most players between the service time of three and six years have the collectively bargained right to use arbitration to set their salary. This allows them to draw on comparable players and their salaries to either have an arbitration hearing set the value of the next year's contract or urge the team to negotiate a raise.
All five of the Cardinals with arbitration rights this season are due raises.
Today's deadline has already prompted a rush of deals completed. Former Cincinnati Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs agreed to a deal with his new team, Cleveland, on Thursday to avoid arbitration. There are those three magic words. The Chicago Cubs and pitcher Matt Garza reportedly have a $10.25-million agreement in place to avoid arbitration. To. Avoid. Arbitration. And MLB Trade Rumors has a running tally of agreements announced already this morning: Jeff Niemman, Lou Marson ... And then later in the day shortstop Jed Lowrie agreed to a $2.4-million deal with the Astros and Cleveland signed Chris Perez to a $7.3-million to avoid ... well, you know.
Check back throughout the day here at STLtoday.com for news about the arbitration deals and the exchange of salary figures.