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Cards likely to tender all 3 arb-eligible players

St. Louis must offer new contracts to Wacha, Grichuk, Lyons before Friday's deadline
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- While many clubs have spent this month debating the merits of tendering contracts to certain arbitration-eligible players, the Cardinals seem to have three straightforward decisions ahead.

The club has three players -- starter Michael Wacha, outfielder Randal Grichuk and reliever Tyler Lyons -- who have accrued three to six years of Major League service time and are therefore eligible for arbitration this offseason. The Cardinals are expected to tender contracts to each of them ahead of Friday's 7 p.m. CT deadline.

ST. LOUIS -- While many clubs have spent this month debating the merits of tendering contracts to certain arbitration-eligible players, the Cardinals seem to have three straightforward decisions ahead.

The club has three players -- starter Michael Wacha, outfielder Randal Grichuk and reliever Tyler Lyons -- who have accrued three to six years of Major League service time and are therefore eligible for arbitration this offseason. The Cardinals are expected to tender contracts to each of them ahead of Friday's 7 p.m. CT deadline.

In fact, the Cardinals resolved what would have been their most complicated decision earlier this month when they chose to release closer Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, would have been arbitration eligible for a third time this offseason. But uncertain whether Rosenthal would be able to pitch at all in 2018, the Cardinals did not want to commit the sort of money the former closer would have received through the arbitration process.

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As for the other three players, Wacha moves into his second year of arbitration eligibility, while Grichuk and Lyons are eligible for the first time. Back in February, the Cardinals, unable to come to a salary agreement with Wacha, took his case to an arbitration hearing. It was the Cardinals' first such hearing since 1999, and they came out as the winner.

Video: PIT@STL: Wacha fans seven over eight dominant innings

Wacha, as a result, earned $2.775 million in 2017. He'll see that salary rise following a season in which he posted a 4.13 ERA over 165 2/3 innings.

But while the Cardinals are ready to engage in negotiations with all three of these players, it isn't assured that all three will be on their 2018 roster. Wacha is expected back in the rotation, and Lyons should fill an important spot in the bullpen. Grichuk's future, though, is much less certain.

Video: STL@CIN: Lyons records K to seal 10th-inning victory

The Cardinals entered the offseason prepared to shave away some of their outfield surplus, and Grichuk remains a strong candidate to be dealt in the coming months. Grichuk knows that, too. Asked in the final days of the regular season whether he saw himself fitting into the Cardinals' 2018 plans, Grichuk was candid with his answer.

"No. Not necessarily," he said. "But who knows. Anything is possible. It's going to be a fun offseason. It's going to be an interesting offseason to see what direction the club goes with a lot of guys. I'm excited to see what the future holds."

Even if the Cardinals don't see a place for Grichuk next season, it benefits them to keep him on the roster for now. Instead of non-tendering Grichuk -- a move that would make him a free agent and bring the Cardinals nothing in return -- the Cardinals can retain his rights and continue to explore potential interest in the trade market.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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