Jason Motte, Cardinals skip arbitration with $1.95 million deal

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Jason Motte emerged as the Cardinals’ closer late last season and now he’s getting a big raise, as the right-hander avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.95 million contract.

Motte submitted a $2.4 million request while the Cardinals countered at $1.5 million, so they’re settling for the exact midpoint.

Motte, who’s arbitration eligible for the first time, earned $435,000 last season while saving nine games with a 2.25 ERA and 63/16 K/BB ratio in 68 innings.

He’s expected to be the Cardinals’ closer from Day 1 this season and racking up 30-plus saves in the role would put the 30-year-old (and his beard) in line for a significant raise in 2013.