St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals ink right-handed starter Miles Mikolas to four-year extension

Pitcher Mikolas joins Cardinals by way of Japan

Miles Mikolas hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2014. But after a successful three-year run in Japan, he says he’s ready to try it again with the Cardinals.
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Miles Mikolas hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2014. But after a successful three-year run in Japan, he says he’s ready to try it again with the Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Tuesday they had come to terms on a four-year contract extension with starting pitcher Miles Mikolas.

The team did not release terms of the contract, but Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported the deal is worth $68 million over four years, with incentives based on innings pitched that could take it to $70 million. Mikolas also gets full no-trade protection.

The 30-year-old right-hander was the surprise of the Cardinals’ rotation in 2018 after signing with the team out of the Nippon Professional League in Japan.

“Miles proved that his recent years in Japan were consistent with the projections we had for him upon his return to the Majors, and he took those to an even higher level with an All-Star season in 2018,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “This was an opportunity for Miles to train in his backyard here in Jupiter as well as pitch in front of family in St. Louis. We are excited for him to be a part of the Cardinals for four additional years.”

Looking to replace Lance Lynn, who had refused a qualifying offer to test the market himself, the Cardinals considered the likes of Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish available. They instead turned to Mikolas, who they signed to a two-year, $15 million deal that was set to expire at the end of the coming season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Mikolas, who had last pitched in the major leagues in 2014 as a member of the Texas Rangers, turned out to be a bargain for the Cardinals. In 200 2/3 innings, he won a National League best 18 games against just four losses with a 2.83 ERA. He averaged just 1.3 walks per nine innings, which also was the best in the NL.

Mikolas was an NL All-Star selection, though he did not pitch, and placed sixth in balloting for the Cy Young Award.

Mikolas was voted by his teammates as the recipient of the 2018 Darryl Kile Award, presented annually by the St. Louis Chapter of the Baseball Writers Associatoin of America (BBWAA) to the Cardinals player who best demonstrates the qualities of the late Darryl Kile by being “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.”

“We are extremely pleased to have Miles under contract for the foreseeable future,” stated Cardinals’ Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. “Miles made great contributions to our team as an All-Star last season, and he quickly fit in with his teammates and our fans. We look forward to having Miles serve as a key member of our pitching staff for the next five years.”

Announcement of the new contract was made amid some concern about right-hander Carlos Martinez, whose spring training was interrupted by weakness in his throwing shoulder. An MRI last week and a secondary medical exam performed Monday indicated no structural damage.

But the 27-year-old arrived at Roger Dean Stadium Tuesday morning with the arm in a sling. The team later explained in a statement that Martinez had a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot, which helps accelerate the healing of injured muscles and other tissues. He will be re-examined in two weeks, at which time it is expected he can resume throwing.

Martinez was limited to 118 innings last season by similar issues that resulted in three separate trips to the injured list.

Without Martinez, the Cardinals rotation would likely consist of Mikolas, Jack Flagherty, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and either Alex Reyes, John Gant, Dakota Hudson, or Austin Gomber.

Reyes, who missed basically all of the last two seasons, first with Tommy John Surgery and then with a scapular tear, has been ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. Wainwright, in his first spring appearance Tuesday, threw two perfect innings against the Washington Nationals in a 6-1 win.

The Cardinals Saturday announced they had signed outfielder Jose Martinez to a new two-year deal.

BND Assigning News Editor Todd Eschman has won numerous state and regional awards for his columns, feature stories and news reporting. He was born and raised in Belleville, attended SIU-Carbondale, and is a member of the BBWAA, SABR and St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.