Mikolas, Cards agree to two-year extension

March 24th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- Just miles away from where he grew up dreaming of an MLB career that would provide stability and security for him and his family, enjoyed a double shot of confidence given to him by the Cardinals on Friday.

Mikolas, a two-time All-Star and a winner of 41 games for St. Louis over the past four seasons, agreed to a two-year contract extension with the club on Friday. Earlier in the day, the 34-year-old Mikolas was named the team’s Opening Day starter for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Busch Stadium.

This will be the second career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who had to pursue his baseball dreams in Japan and on two other MLB teams, before finally landing in St. Louis and finding the security he so often longed for.

“It really is the perfect situation that I found here,” Mikolas said Friday. “Some guys have Spring Training away from home and have a little apartment, but to be able to call your Spring Training home your hometown -- something that enables you to keep the kids in school and stay in one place a little longer, and the friends and family are around -- that’s something we’re able to do here. Then, when we head to St. Louis, I have family there, and the kids really like it. So it really is the best of both worlds for me and the family.”

Cardinals president John Mozeliak said he first broached the idea of an extension with Mikolas in January, but the topic was put on the back burner over the next two months. Then, prior to Mikolas leaving for the World Baseball Classic, Mozeliak re-engaged the pitcher's representatives about an extension that would allow him to remain with the Cards -- an idea the pitcher firmly endorsed.

“Being able to extend Miles is something that [chairman] Bill [DeWitt Jr.] and the organization thought was very important to do,” Mozeliak said. “When you think about how dominant [Mikolas] was, and he was an All-Star for the National League [in 2022], a couple of things really came to mind after that season.

"Here is someone who truly wanted to be a St. Louis Cardinal from Day 1. That’s something that’s important to us. When someone wants to be here, that’s something we try to make happen. Then, when you think back to the earlier extension he signed with us after coming over from Japan, he’s always been betting on himself and winning.”

Cardinals cornerstone Adam Wainwright, who is entering his 18th and final MLB season, was originally slated to be the team’s Opening Day starter for the seventh time in his career. However, Wainwright will miss several weeks after he strained a groin muscle on Tuesday before the World Baseball Classic championship game between Team USA and Japan while working out in the weight room.

Mikolas went 12-13 with a 3.29 ERA in 2022. He tied his career best with 32 starts and set a new high with 201 2/3 innings.

Mikolas said his Opening Day start in St. Louis in 2018 -- his first time starting the season on an MLB roster -- showed him how important it was to play for the Cardinals. Now he’ll have to try and temper his emotions while facing a rugged Blue Jays lineup.

“It’s a combination of a few dreams come true,” Mikolas said. “Opening Day in St. Louis is a special day, something I’ve seen since the first day I got to experience it myself. To help us get off on the right foot would be tremendous for me.

"And as far as the extension goes, this is where I’ve always wanted to play. I grew up here, getting pulled out of school to come and see the Spring Training games. I’ve been a Cardinals fan for a long time. Coming back from Japan, this is the place that I wanted to be, and this is the place I want to stay.”