With their roster now at 37, the Cardinals tendered contracts to their five other arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes and John Gant, as well as center fielder Harrison Bader. Of the group, Gant was the only one who was not in his first year of arbitration; he was set to make $1.3 million in 2020 before the prorated salaries. Flaherty will see significant salary increase based on precedent and comparable players, and Bader will likely see a sizable increase, too, as a starter and elite defender. The injuries that Hicks and Reyes have dealt with will likely factor into their negotiations, but they will still see the raise that arbitration brings.
Salaries can be negotiated at any time or determined later via arbitration hearings. If an agreement is not made, then a hearing will be scheduled, and an arbiter will decide between an offer from the club and a request from the player. Pre-arbitration players’ salaries will be set sometime during Spring Training.
Brebbia was arbitration-eligible for the first time this year but is recovering from Tommy John surgery that saw him miss 2020. He has started a throwing program that puts him at a potential return for shortly after the scheduled start of the 2021 season, but the uncertainty of that return was a driving factor in removing him from the roster. The Cardinals have expressed an interest in re-signing Brebbia to a Minor League deal if he does not find a team willing and able to take on his rehab plan.
The 30-year-old right-hander has a 3.14 ERA in 161 games across three years with the Cardinals. He came to St. Louis via independent ball and quickly became a reliable reliever for the Cards, emerging last year as a dark horse candidate for closer before elbow soreness turned into surgery. He has a 10.2 strikeout rate per nine innings in 175 innings.
Ravelo was not arbitration eligible, but the team had the right to not tender him a contract and make him a free agent. The 28-year-old debuted in 2019 as a bench player and received limited opportunities in 2020, complicated by testing positive for COVID-19. He pursued opportunities in Asia a year ago, and the Cardinals were set to release him until a bench spot opened when they traded José Martínez. The decision to let Ravelo go was a matter of playing time; the Cardinals are interested to see what backup infielders Edmundo Sosa and John Nogowski can bring to the club heading into the coming season.
Brebbia and Ravelo were part of new wave of free agents to hit the market Wednesday, giving the Cardinals new possibilities to upgrade their offense this winter. Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber and Braves outfielder Adam Duvall became free agents when their teams non-tendered them. All-Star outfielder David Dahl was non-tendered by the Rockies after injuries slowed his production. The left-handed hitter still has the power potential to bring a lot of interest from teams.