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Flaherty says he rejected offer on 'principle,' forcing Cardinals to impose salary

Flaherty says he rejected offer on 'principle,' forcing Cardinals to impose salary

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JUPITER, Fla. — For the second consecutive year, and the final year that it's possible, the Cardinals and their rising ace Jack Flaherty have been unable to reach an agreement on his contract, so the team has imposed a salary on the righthander.

The Cardinals announced the finalized deals with 25 players on the 40-man roster with less than three years of service time. Flaherty was the one player the Cardinals had to renew without an agreement. 

Per team policy, he'll receive a $10,000 reduction in salary as penalty. But the team did stretch their formula to give him a $10,000 bonus for a fourth-place finish in the Cy Young Award voting. Those offset, so he received a $604,500 salary for 2020, per a source.

Flaherty declined the offer a year ago so that he had on the record that he did not agree the value the Cardinals had set for him in the coming year. That set him up to make the argument during arbitration, which he will be eligible at the end of this season. This is the last season where the Cardinals can impose a salary on Flaherty.

He said he did it a second time based on "principle."

"It’s just kind of the product of the system that we have," Flaherty said. "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."

Players with less than three years of service time have no leverage when it comes to their salary other than the protest that requires renewal. Effervescent talent Juan Soto, of the Nationals, also could not reach an agreement with the club after his sophomore season and forced Washington to renew him this past week. 

The Cardinals use a formula to set salaries, and it uses publicly available statistics, as detailed in this exclusive report from The Post-Dispatch this past week.

The formula is based on days in the majors, health, and performance, as described by Wins Above Replacement. The formula also includes a bump for awards, and Flaherty finished a few votes shy of the prescribed bonus for finishing in the top three for the Cy Young Award. According to the Cardinals' formula, provided by a source, the team's offer to Flaherty was set to be $604,450 or close to it. 

He is the first player to crack $600,000 since the Cardinals adopted the use of the formula, and his increase, by percentage, over the major-league minimum would also be the highest since the formula.

"It’s hard when someone puts that in front of you to say no, even if you do know what your value is, and what could possibly come in the future," Flaherty said. "It’s hard to look because you’re looking five years down the road. A lot of stuff can happen in five years. That is a long time and at the end of the day you get rewarded for it. The top tier guys get rewarded."

The Cardinals finalized the deals with most of the players in the past two weeks, and they were all announced en masse Sunday morning. The group signed to one-year deals for 2020 were:

  • John Brebbia, RHP
  • Genesis Cabrera, LHP
  • Junior Fernandez, RHP
  • Giovanny Gallegos, RHP
  • Austin Gomber, LHP
  • Ryan Helsley, RHP
  • Jordan Hicks, RHP
  • Dakota Hudson, RHP
  • Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP
  • Alex Reyes, RHP
  • Ricardo Sanchez, LHP
  • Alvaro Seijas, RHP
  • Tyler Webb, LHP
  • Jake Woodford, RHP
  • Andrew Knizner, C
  • Tommy Edman, INF
  • Edmundo Sosa, SS
  • Rangel Ravelo, 1B/OF
  • Elehuris Montero, 3B
  • Austin Dean, OF
  • Harrison Bader, OF
  • Tyler O'Neill, OF
  • Justin Williams, OF
  • Lane Thomas, OF

This is this consecutive year the Cardinals have had to renew a player, and they had gone a decade without doing so, and even longer since the renewal wasn't a prelude to an extension. The Cardinals and Flaherty, according to sources, were not able to find common ground for the discussion of an extension going into this spring training.

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