St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha.

(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Cards Avoid Arbitration with Wacha, Ozuna, Leone

The trio were the only three Cardinals players who were arbitration eligible this offseason.

January 11, 2019 - 12:35 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) updated with Ozuna, Leone contracts - The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed on deals to avoid arbitration with Dominic Leone, Marcell Ozuna and Michael Wacha, Friday. 

The team did not disclose the terms of those deals, however multiple reports says Wacha's deal is for $6.35, Ozuna's is worth $12.25 million. All three are one-year deals, but Leone's salary has not yet been reported.

Wacha's deal also has an incentive of an additional $100,000 if Wacha reaches 175 innings, was first reported by Robert Murray of The Athletic. He has averaged about 129 innings through the past three seasons.

Wacha had an injury-shortened season in 2018, pitching in just 15 games with a 3.20 ERA. But before he went to the DL with an oblique injury his ERA at one point was top-10 in the National League in mid-June and he was one out away from a no-hitter on June 3. 

He was 8-2 in 2018, as St. Louis won 10 of Wacha's 12 starts between April 7 and June 9. He is one of 11 pitchers currently on St. Louis' 40-man roster with MLB starting experience. 

Related: Wainwright Explains His Decision Not to Retire in 2018

Ozuna, 28, batted .280 with 23 home runs and a team-leading 88 RBI in his initial season with the Cardinals, co-leading the team in hits (163), while leading all Major League left fielders in innings played (1,283.1).  The “Big Bear” tied for the N.L. lead in go-ahead RBI (31) with the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, and after a stint on the disabled list from Aug. 22-31 due to right shoulder inflammation, he returned to rank among N.L. leaders in September HR’s (7-T7th) and RBI (19-T8th).  Ozuna’s 212 RBI over the past two seasons (2017-18) rank 2nd in the Senior Circuit.

Leone, 27, appeared in just 29 games last season, missing nearly 100 games while on the disabled list (May 6 to August 25) with a right upper arm nerve irritation.  He was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 5 Holds last season and appeared in 14 of the team’s final 32 games after returning from the disabled list, including scoreless outings in each of his last four appearances (1.2 IP).

Friday at noon, St. Louis time, was the deadline for team and restricted free agents to make a deal. If they don't, third-party arbitrators will decide the player's salary for the next season, based on a number of factors such as previous salary and past performance.

Marcell Ozuna and Dominic Leone are the only other Cardinals eligible for arbitration this season.