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:
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.