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The Cardinals could go to an arbitration hearing for the first time since 1999

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Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is planning on taking two players to arbitration hearings this winter, per a report by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The club was unable to settle with right-handers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, and took a hard-line approach in hopes of getting arbitration-eligible players to settle by Friday’s deadline.

Mozeliak explained the team mindset as they prepare for the upcoming hearing, adding that he doesn’t intend to settle with either player in the interim:

Historically, this is not something we have had to focus on. […] Energy and where we’ll be headed over the next few weeks will be mostly focused on that. … We do have time. But our strategy was if we file and exchange then we would take it to hearing.

Wacha, 25, had an off year with the Cardinals, going 7-7 with a career-worst 5.09 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 rate through 138 innings. He requested $3.2 million for the 2017 season, which was countered with $2.8 million.

Martinez, who recently reiterated his interest in extending his career in St. Louis, filed at $4.25 million. The club offered $3.9 million. The 25-year-old went 16-9 in 2016 with a 3.04 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 rate in 195 1/3 innings.

As Goold pointed out in his initial report, the Cardinals have not been to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when left-hander Darren Oliver and agent Scott Boras lost to the Cardinals over a sum of $3.55 million.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.