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.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.