ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander John Gant was the only player the Cardinals needed to make a decision on ahead of Monday night’s non-tender deadline, and, as expected, they tendered a contract to Gant for 2020.
Gant, 27, is in his first year of arbitration and is the Cardinals’ only arbitration-eligible player after they designated Dominic Leone for assignment on Nov. 20.
Presenting Gant with a contract for 2020 means the Cardinals are committing to going through the arbitration process with Gant, unless they can agree to terms on a deal before mid-January. If that doesn’t happen, the club and Gant will exchange salary figures for '20 and schedule a hearing for February. And if no one-year or multi-year deal is reached before the hearing, a panel of arbitrators will hear arguments from both sides and select either the salary figure presented by Gant or the club.
Gant made $571,300 in 2019, and his salary could likely double through the arbitration process. He can agree to a salary at any point over the next few months.
Gant was an All-Star candidate for his relief work early in 2019. After being moved to the bullpen in Spring Training, the right-hander had a 2.22 ERA in the first half. He was a high-leverage setup man for most of the year, dictated by his 11-1 record. He had a 3.66 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings over 64 games. Although he struggled late in the year and was left off the postseason roster, the Cardinals believe he will still hold a vital role in next year’s bullpen and even could be available to start again if needed.
The Cardinals also tendered contracts for 2020 to all of their players on the 40-man roster with fewer than three years of service time who did not already have contracts for the upcoming season. Those salaries, which are usually set at the Major League minimum, will be renewed during the spring. These pre-arbitration players can negotiate salaries with their clubs, but they have far less leverage than arbitration-eligible players.