Cardinals Extend Jaime Garcia

The St. Louis Cardinals moved today to lock up one of their important young pieces, signing pitcher and potential ace-in-the-making Jaime Garcia to a four year contract worth $27.5 million. The deal also includes two club options in 2016 and 2017, the values of which have not been released as of this writing. As Garcia is currently in his second year of service time, the deal guarantees his third pre-arbitration season as well as all three of his arbitration seasons, with the two club options covering his first two years of free agency.

Garcia has defined himself quite clearly in his first season and a half in the big leagues. He strikes out a good number of batters, with a 7.7 K/9 sitting just under a full point above the league average. His control was mediocre last year, sitting at 3.5 BB/9, but that number has fallen a full point and now sits at a very good 2.5. But his real calling card is his ability to get the ground ball — for the second straight year, Garcia is posting a ground ball percentage in the mid-50s, and it’s this ability that largely drives his 3.22 ERA and 2.98 FIP.

Through a season and a half, Garcia has basically established himself as a pitcher who holds offenses to 80%-90% of the league average. His defense-independent numbers compare extremely well to division rival Yovani Gallardo, a pitcher who received an extension in his third year of pre-arbitration status as well. Gallardo’s contract, signed at the beginning of last season, covers his three arbitration years as well as his first year of free agency, and will cost the Brewers $30.1 million guaranteed, although Gallardo’s contract only contains one club option.

The Cardinals paid a bit more for Garcia than the Brewers did for Gallardo given that Garcia’s contract doesn’t take him into free agency, but that makes sense given his Garcia’s ERA totals as well as the natural progression in player salaries. Seeing as Garcia is looking like a 4.0-5.0 WAR pitcher at this point, as long as the club options are worth something near $15 million dollars (for example, Gallardo’s 2015 option would pay him $13 million), the Cardinals will likely be holding quite a bit of surplus value with Garcia at no risk to themselves come 2016 and 2017.

Of course, there is always risk when extending players early on in their careers and there is even more risk when doing so with pitchers. At only 25 years old last week and posting excellent numbers already, though, Garcia was an asset just screaming to be locked up. The Cardinals saved themselves the chore of arbitration battles, may have saved some cash over those three years, and now have the option to retain a cornerstone-quality starting pitcher for two of his free agent seasons. Sometimes, baseball operations really are that simple.




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14 Responses to “Cardinals Extend Jaime Garcia”

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  1. TartanElk says:

    Might as well. You could’ve probably tacked on another 7-8 million if he had gone through arb.

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  2. Rob says:

    Pretty sure Garcia is eligible for arbitration after this season, so the contract covers 3 arb years and the first year of free agency with options for the 2nd and 3rd year free agent eligible

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    • Hank says:

      You are correct it’s 3 arb years and 1 FA year (and then the 2 options)

      I read somewhere (MLBtrade rumors maybe?) that his first arbitrartion award may have been impacted a bit by his TJ surgery/recovery in 09, so that might also explain a bit of the lower value. The 2nd option probably should have led to him getting a bit more guaranteed money.

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      Indeed. Typical shoddy research on fangraphs by a featured writer.

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    • chuckb says:

      No. Garcia wouldn’t have been arbitration eligible until after next season. The contract doesn’t begin until next season and takes him through his 6th season. The option years are for his first 2 free agent seasons.

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  3. Klaus says:

    Seems like a good deal. One thing not mentioned yet: Garcia already had Tommy John suregery.

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  4. JCA says:

    Jack –

    I’ve been wondering about Jordan Zimmermann and whether he should be in line for a similar deal to the Cahill – Buchholz -Gallardo – Romero – Davis group, now joined by Garcia. At this point, his innings total is around 230 for his career, which is less than the first group had by about 100 innings at the time of their extensions, and about 60 less than Garcia. Nevertheless, he is likely to be a Super 2 at the end of the year. I’m not saying he’s a better pitcher than most of this excellent group, but if he finishes the year before signing an extension, is he likely to get a less team-advantageous / bigger total dollars contract than these other pitchers?

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  5. CodyG says:

    @chuckb
    Garcia accrued ML service time because he was on the 60 day DL in 2009. This is his third year of Service time so he would go into arbitration.
    /hates to correct VEB legends

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  6. Jeffrey lage says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t research this a little better. Garcia was eligible for arb after this (2011) season.

    This contact buys out his first free agent season and possible second and third.

    The deal is more closely resembling of Adam wainwrights then it is gallardo’s

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      “I’m surprised they didn’t research this a little better.”

      You have read this site in the last 18 months, right?

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  7. Vision says:

    Yeah, I love me some fangraphs, but this one is bad fellas. Honestly, it’s bad enough it should probably be pulled down.

    That said, it’s an honest mistake. I’m a huge Cards fan and it took me a second to realize it was a mistake what everyone was reporting about not buying out a year of FA due to the TJ year.

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  8. CircleChange11 says:

    This is great. They’re going to get JG for less money than they paid for Kyle Lohse (unless I’m mistaken).

    IMHO, Garcia is very under-rated based on the amount of positive attention he receives. He has good control, strikes out enough batters, and suppresses HR by inducing a ton of grounders.

    It’s mainly because of JG and Westbrook that I wondered why StL was so excited to get rid of the best defensive SS in the NL. Ryan has been worth 1.2 more WAR than Theriot, but we all knew that was going to happen.

    The major concern with JG was prior injury.

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