Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The St. Louis Cardinals locked closer Jason Motte in for two years at more money than he was asking for for one.
The St. Louis Cardinals sorted out one of their remaining arbitration-eligible contract negotiations on Tuesday, signing Jason Motte to a two-year deal reportedly worth $12 million. It's an odd end to talks that began with Motte asking for $5.5 million over one year and the Cardinals countering with $4.5; Motte gets a raise and a second year, and the Cardinals get zero years of free agency.
This isn't quite as superfluous-feeling as the two-year Skip Schumaker deal, but I'm not sure what the Cardinals get out of it; they have cost certainty, but only inasmuch as they're already paying Motte for 2014 as if he had a very successful 2013.
In any case: For a 31-year-old reliever who is almost entirely dependent on throwing hard, Motte has a pretty stellar portfolio. In 2012 he struck out a career-high 10.8 batters per nine innings, and his walk rate over the last two years has fallen to crafty-righty levels. Last year his fastball's average velocity reached a career high (96.8) while declining to just ("just") 72.1% of his pitches thrown.
Sometimes it feels like all relief pitching is performed on a tightrope, and really good relievers fall off their narrow perch every year, but Motte looks like a pretty good bet to perform through 2014. I'm just not sure what the Cardinals gained by confirming now that he'd be doing it for them.