The Cardinals have not had an arbitration hearing with a player since they defeated reliever Darren Oliver in 1999, as Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch points out. That should be an indication they will reach a deal with David Freese at some point, but the present gap with the third baseman seems large.
Freese, who is seeking $3.75 million as opposed to the club’s offer of $2.4 million, is the only arbitration-eligible unsigned player for the Cardinals after lefthanded reliever Marc Rzepczynski agreed to a deal Friday.
The 29-year-old Freese will be in line for a nice raise from the $508,000 he made last season, even though there has been minimal buzz about an extension. The 2011 World Series MVP hit .293 with 20 homers in 2012, his first full season. But we know the Cardinals do not give money away on a whim, as Albert Pujols found out a few offseasons ago.
Some in St. Louis are saying the Cardinals need to pay up when it comes to Freese.
While Freese was drafted by the Padres, he came up through the Cards’ farm system following a trade for Jim Edmonds in 2007. In fact, ESPN.com’s Keith Law says the Cardinals are the top minor league system in baseball in his rankings released Monday:
"The Cardinals have drafted well, fared well in Latin America, traded well and developed well over the past five years, fulfilling the main goals of a farm system: Provide talent for the major league roster, and provide currency for trades to do the same. St. Louis has shown a willingness to use young players in minor roles, with some of them graduating to full-time roles, a process I think will be easier under current manager Mike Matheny -- and it's a good thing, as the system is bursting with players who look like they'll be ready for the majors in the next year and who project as average regulars or more."