Former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte has agreed to a contract with the Chicago Cubs. The first in my Twitter timeline to tweet out the news was ESPN's Jayson Stark. Motte's pact with the Cubs is one year in length according to Stark. Yahoo! columnist Jeff Passan tweets that the deal with worth $4.5 million guaranteed with incentives for games finished. According to Passan, this indicates the Cubs view Motte as a potential closer.
The news that Motte has signed elsewhere is not particularly surprising. While the door to a potential Motte return to St. Louis seemed open more so than with fellow relief corps member Pat Neshek, who general manager John Mozeliak openly mused had likely priced himself out of the Cardinals' comfort zone for relievers. Motte was seeking a pillow contract in free agency that would allow him to reestablish his value after season-ending Tommy John surgery to replace his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in 2013 and a rough return to big-league action in 2014. It seemed feasible while nonetheless unlikely (after all, I wrote a post celebrating Motte's time as a Cardinal back in September after reading the tea leaves). If the market passed Motte by, he might be able to reach a deal with the Cardinals—especially with the dearth of righties in the St. Louis bullpen at present.
There were a few if's that had to chain together before a Cards-Motte reunion might occur; the first if didn't even happen. Motte signing on the Monday after the Winter Meetings indicates the market hasn't passed him by. That Motte signed with the Cubs stings a bit. But it will add a bit of spice as the rivalry is resurrected on opening day and throughout 2015. Until then, I prefer to remember 2011.
Motte ascended to the closer role late in the year. He had notched just nine saves when the postseason began. I made it to two postseason games that October, my first ever playoff game in the NLDS and my first ever World Series game. Motte closed both Cardinals wins out. I'll remember World Series Game 1 as long as I live.
Our seats were behind the Cardinals pen. After the final out of the bottom of the eighth, an expectant roar spread through the crowd as Eminem's "Lose Yourself" blared over the Busch Stadium load speakers. From my vantage point, I could see Motte make his way to the bullpen door, pause, and then enter the field. The Cardinals fans were in a party-like frenzy of excited anticipation as he took the mound and warmed up. That energy was surpassed only by Motte recording the final out of the game.
While Motte may be trading in the birds on the bat for Cubbie pinstripes, we'll always have this:
Author's Note: The original post was updated to reflect the information Jeff Passan tweeted regarding the money and incentives of Motte's contract with the Cubs.