Allen Craig contract details: St. Louis Cardinals' long-term extension looks extremely team-friendly

Now he can buy a new bat! - Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals locked Allen Craig up for up to six years on Friday, including two very valuable years of free agency.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced a long-term contract extension on Friday, but it wasn't the Adam Wainwright deal everyone's slightly anxious about: It was a surprise attack on Allen Craig's arbitration years. The Cardinals locked up their starting first baseman on a five-year contract worth $31 million, with an attached club option that could take the deal through the 2018 season—in short, a contract a lot like the last Adam Wainwright deal. Here are the contract details, via Rick Hummel's report:

Year Value Buyout
2013 $1.75M Servitude
2014 $2.75M Arbitration
2015 $5.5M Arbitration
2016 $9M Arbitration
2017 $11M Free Agency
(2018) ($13M/$1M) (Free Agency)

In exchange for a nice raise today and some guaranteed money—not to be taken lightly for a guy who got an 8th-round signing bonus—the Cardinals have won themselves the right to sign free-agent-Allen-Craig, in the last years of his prime, to a one-year, $11 million contract with a $13 million team option. There's certainly a risk, here, but it's a tiny one—that Allen Craig is ineffective or not worth playing in the two years where he will be making real money.

That looks like a great deal today. By 2017 $11 million might not even look like real money. And that's why it's a really great deal. Allen Craig gets to think about what he's going to do with $31 million, and the Cardinals get to underpay for a guy who looks like an extremely valuable first baseman.

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