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

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

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

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.