According to the Associated Press, in speaking with reporters prior to Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers last night, Tony La Russa dropped some pretty strong hints that he will return as manager of the Cardinals next season. La Russa and the Cardinals have a mutual option for 2012.
“We don’t get into 2012, but I think it’s a fair comment to make: What’s happened to this club on the right-handed bullpen side is very exciting going forward,” La Russa said.
“Our focus is right now, we’re not talking about 2012 or anybody’s free agency,” La Russa said. “The nucleus of this club, I think it’s pretty well set. There are a lot of things that are for sure about next year’s club that I think make it literally an outstanding situation.”
See, if there’s anything that can keep La Russa going, it’s extra arms to play with in the bullpen.
First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.
Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.