The St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration hearings this winter by reaching agreements on one-year contracts with four eligible players, including newcomer Marcell Ozuna.
Deals were also tied up with pitchers Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons, and outfielder Randal Grichuk.
Financial details of the contracts were not disclosed.
CBS Sports reports Ozuna will be paid $9 million in 2018. That is a raise from the $3.5 million he made with the Miami Marlins last season. It was believed he could make up to $11 million had he taken his case to an arbitration hearing.
Ozuna can be a free agent in 2020. So far, he is the prize of the Cardinals’ offseason, acquired in a Dec. 13 trade with the Marlins in exchange for minor-league outfielder Magneuris Sierra and pitching prospects Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano.
The 27-year-old outfielder had a breakout year this past season with a .312 batting average, 37 home runs and 124 RBIs. He had a .376 on-base percentage, a .548 slugging average and an OPS of .924. All were career-bests.
Ozuna also won his first Gold Glove Award in 2017.
He will make his first appearance to St. Louis fans and media Saturday at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch hotel in downtown St. Louis.
Grichuk, 26, started the 2017 season as the Cardinals’ starting left fielder but lost the job to Tommy Pham, who had a breakout season.
Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, who was since traded to the Oakland Athletics, became the odd men out with the acquisition of Ozuna. Grichuk will likely have to compete with Harrison Bader to be the team’s fourth outfielder.
Grichuk was paid $557,200 last season. In 442 plate appearances, he hit .238 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs. His .285 on-base percentage, .473 slugging average and .758 OPS each continued a two-year decline.
Lyons, 29, made a career-high 50 appearances this past season and ranked eighth among National League left-handed relievers with a 2.83. His 1.09 WHIP ranked fourth.
Lyons struck out 68 batters in 54 innings pitched. Left-handers batted just .174 against him, while right-handers hit .224.
Wacha, 26, matched his single-season career high with 30 starts in 2017, while reaching double-digit wins (12) for the second time in his career.
His 12-9 recrod and 4.13 ERA in 165.2 innings was an improvement over a 2016 season marked by injuries and inconsistency. But Wacha won 17 games with a 3.38 ERA in 2015.
A major target on the Cardinals’ offseason wish list, Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson, reached a one-year agreement with the Blue Jays on Friday that set a new record for arbitration-eligible players.
St. Louis made several overtures toward the Blue Jays to acquire the 32-year-old slugger in a trade, knowing he can become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season. Toronto refused and on Friday rewarded Donaldson with a $23 million contract.
The previous record for arbitration-eligible players was Bryce Harper’s $21.625 million deal with the Washington Nationals for the 2018 season.
Donaldson is a three-time All-Star and the 2015 American League MVP. He batted. 270 last season with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs.