The St. Louis Cardinals and closer Jason Motte avoided arbitration Wednesday when the team and Motte agreed to a two-year deal woth $12 million, with performance bonuses in the contract as well. This agreement will buy out Motte’s final two years of arbitration, but does not impede his path to free agency, which he will probably take to land a bigger payday with some team.
Motte was certainly entitled to a raise after settling himself down in the bullpen in 2012 and recording 42 saves in 67 games. Motte also had an ERA of 2.75, and struck out 86 batters along the way. The shakiness that he had when the Cardinals gave him the chance to close games subsided, as he proved himself in the 2011 World Series as well as the season after that.
The 30-year-old asked for a $5.5 million salary before agreeing to a $4.5 million salary that the Cardinals eventually offered him.
Motte’s job this season is to continue to anchor his bullpen. The group of relievers that the Cardinals have is pretty solid. Ed Mujica and Randy Choate were both great when playing for the Miami Marlins, Mitchell Boggs was used a great setup man last season, and will continue the role in 2013. The bullpen will also welcome Trevor Rosenthal to the mix as well. Rosenthal is one of the best pitching prospects in the system, and will get his first full season opportunity with St. Louis.
Motte is the man St. Louis counts on to keep them in games and to close out games. In a tightly-contested National League Central division, the x-factor could very well be the closer.