Jaime Garcia Gets Paid

Reports surfaced today suggesting the St. Louis Cardinals signed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to a multi-year contract extension, buying out the young lefty’s arbitration years. The terms are not yet 100% concrete but human scourge Jon Heyman indicates a 4-year, $27.5 million deal with 2 option years. The Cardinals plan to announce the deal at a 12:30 Central Time press conference.

Garcia is having an excellent second full season for the Cardinals, posting a sub-3.00 FIP and 2.5 WAR already in 2011. Garcia is a known ground ball wizard despite playing with one of baseball’s worst defenses behind him. Only 24, Garcia limits home runs, misses bats, and throws strikes. Sounds like a keeper.

As MLB Trade Rumors points out, the deal is slightly less than those signed by Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz though past injury limits Garcia’s first-year arbitration earning potential.

The option years are obviously key but a deal this size puts Garcia squarely in the neighbourhood of similar starters Jon Lester and Ricky Romero. Both AL lefties signed similar 5 year, $30 million-ish contracts with $13 million dollar club options. Lester signed his deal at 25, Romero just shy of his 26th birthday though Lester was a year closer to arbitration when he signed.

While Garcia accepted the higher AAV, shorter term deal at a younger age, his deal might end up being the best. In terms of projection and/or true talent, I’d put Garcia ahead of Romero but behind Lester. Either way, this is a fair market deal for an excellent young pitcher in a pretty ideal situation.

Playing for a winning ball club in front of adoring fans without the worries of AL East drudgery wearing on his soul while making a hefty wage is all Jaime Garcia could ask for. The Cards lock up a big piece of their future while Garcia has financial security in the short term and still could enter free agency before he turns 31. A tidy bit of business for a efficient NL starter.

Big tap of the ledger to Cot’s Contracts