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Freese among trio to swap salary figures with Cards

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' list of unsigned arbitration-eligible players shrunk to three on Friday, as the organization reached contract agreements with relievers Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica. Both relievers signed one-year deals, the values of which were not immediately known.

Because deals were not struck with the club's other three arbitration-eligible players -- David Freese, Jason Motte and Marc Rzepczynski -- the Cardinals exchanged desired 2013 salary figures with each of those players.

Those figures were released on Friday and included salary requests of $5.5 million and $3.75 million, respectively, by Motte and Freese. Rzepczynski has requested a 2013 salary of $1.3 million.

The Cardinals countered with a salary figure of $4.5 million for Motte, who is coming off a 42-save season. Regardless of the final figure, Motte is set to more than double his 2012 salary of $1.95 million. This marks Motte's second year of arbitration eligibility.

With Freese, the Cardinals filed for a salary of $2.4 million. That leaves the two sides $1.35 million apart. Freese, who is arbitration eligible for the first time, earned $508,000 in 2012. He is coming off an All-Star season in which he avoided the disabled list and played in a career-high 144 games. Freese batted .293 with 25 doubles, 20 homers and 79 RBIs.

The left-handed Rzepczynski is also going through this process for the first time. In contrast to his proposed salary, the Cardinals submitted a one-year figure of $900,000. Rzepczynski made $504,000 last season. His leverage wasn't help by his 2012 season, which wasn't as strong as anticipated. In 70 games, Rzepczynski posted a 4.24 ERA. That was more than two runs higher than Boggs' mark.

Publicly exchanging salary figures with arbitration-eligible players does not preclude the Cardinals from continuing to negotiate with each of the three. However, it is an indication that time is running out to settle such contracts outside of an arbitration hearing.

Those hearings will begin during the first week of February. If an arbitration hearing is necessary, a three-person arbitration panel, after hearing points raised by both the organization and player, will select the figure submitted by one of the two parties. That decision is binding.

Most of the time, though, the two sides will resolve the salary issue before needing arbitration. The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since 1999. That year, the organization won its case against left-hander Darren Oliver.

Players become eligible to go through the arbitration process once they have accrued between three and six years of Major League service time.

Mujica, who was arbitration eligible for the third time in his career, earned $1.625 million in 2012, a season he split between Miami and St. Louis. The Cardinals acquired the right-hander through a Trade Deadline deal last summer.

Mujica pitched in a career-high 70 games last season, the final 29 of which came after he joined the Cardinals. Mujica finished with an ERA of 3.03 and had 31 holds, a total that ranked fourth best in the National League. He is set to become a free agent after the 2013 season.

Boggs' one-year deal for 2013 comes on the heels of the best season of his career, and it falls one day after he was named to Team USA's roster for the World Baseball Classic. Used primarily as the team's eighth-inning setup man last year, Boggs recorded 34 holds in a career-high 78 appearances.

In 2012, Boggs earned a salary of $506,000.

St. Louis Cardinals, Mitchell Boggs, David Freese, Jason Motte, Edward Mujica, Marc Rzepczynski