The Cardinals have just announced the signing of closer Ryan Franklin and lefty reliever Trever Miller to contract extensions. (Read the team-issued press release here.)
I know the natural reaction to this is "why did they sign these two before Matt Holliday?" But these are a pair of very smart moves on behalf of the front office.
Because Holliday and Cardinals centerpiece Albert Pujols -- not to mention free agent manager Tony LaRussa -- have said repeatedly that top dollar isn't their top priority in new deals. They want to play for a team that is committed to winning and that has a chance to win.
Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin leads the NL in saves. Now he will be a Redbird through 2011. AP photo.
By inking perhaps the two most valuable and effective pitchers in the bullpen to new deals, the Cardinals have taken another step to prove to their stars that they want to win not only this season, but next year, too. They can paint a clear picture to their manager and offensive stars of what the future holds and put them in a situation where all they have to do is add themselves to the equation to complete the puzzle.
And, hopefully, Pujols and Holliday will live up to their word that they aren't trying to break the bank if they see that they could help this team win a couple of World Series by taking a little less.
I don't have the numbers yet, but the word was that Ryan's contract was going to be in the $3.75 to $4 million a year range, which is a steal for a closer. By filling a spot where Jason Isringhausen once made $10 million a year for less than half that money, it frees up more cash to help the team in other areas of need.