ST. LOUIS -- Outfielder Randal Grichuk became the first of the Cardinals' four arbitration-eligible players to reach an agreement with the club, as the two sides settled on a one-year, $2.6 million contract for 2018, a source told MLB.com. Bob Nightengale of USA Today was the first to report the contract details on Thursday. The club has not confirmed the deal.
The deal comes one day before clubs and any remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players will exchange desired salary figures. In 2017, the Cardinals transitioned to a trial-and-file philosophy, meaning that once they swap salary figures with a player, they proceed with the intention of taking that case all the way to a February arbitration hearing.
That played out last year with starter Michael Wacha, who became the first Cardinals player to advance to a hearing since 1999. The arbitrator sided with St. Louis.
Such a structure makes Friday an unofficial deadline of sorts for Wacha, Marcell Ozuna and Tyler Lyons -- all of whom remain unsigned -- to find common ground with the Cardinals without bringing a third-party arbiter in to make the decision.
Grichuk, who made $557,200 in 2017, entered the offseason eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career. While he's no longer earmarked for a starting job, he does sit as the fourth outfielder on the Cardinals' depth chart and should see semi-regular playing time given his ability to play all three outfield spots.
In 442 plate appearances last season, Grichuk slashed .238/.285/.473 for a .758 OPS. That latter figure has decreased each of the past three seasons while Grichuk has struggled to turn potential into consistent production.