The Associated Press reports that the Cardinals have finally come to terms with second baseman Skip Schumaker on a two-year $4.7 million contract to avoid salary arbitration. The deal will pay Schumaker $2 million for 2010 and $2.7 million in 2011. Incentive clauses for both years could elevate the total value of the contract to $5 million.
The deal, rumored for the better part of a month, finally came to fruition with arbitration hearings about to begin. Schumaker was looking for $2.75 million while the club offered $1.45 million. The gap between Schumaker and the Cards was $1.3 million, which was the third largest gap of players with three years of service time. Andre Ethier had the largest, $1.65 million, but settled shortly after figures were exchanged on January 19th. Jeremy Guthrie who came in $1.325 million higher than the Orioles offered, remains unsigned and seems destined for a hearing.
The two-year contract gives Schumaker a 365% raise over the $430,000 he earned in 2009. This is the first year Schumaker could file for salary arbitration and the deal buys his out his second year of eligibility. He will remain eligible for arbitration in 2012, with free agency after the 2012 season. The midpoint between the exchanged figured was $2.1 million. The first year of the contract falls just below the midpoint.
The 30 year-old had another solid season at the plate in 2009. He put up a batting line of .303/.364/.393 in 586 plate appearances. He set a new career high with 34 doubles and maintained his good plate discipline. With minimal homerun power and few strikeouts, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .342 far above the league norm of .300. Maintaining that high a BABIP is unusual and may signal an higher potential for decline int he coming seasons.
Schumaker's signing reduces the number of players whose cases are pending to 13. He was the only pending case for St. Louis. Hearings will begin imminently for the remaining players like Wandy Rodriguez, Cody Ross and Corey Hart who have not come to terms with their teams. Please visit the salary arbitration figures page for more information.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
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