Cardinals avoid arbitration, sign 3 to contracts

Ozuna, Wacha, Leone ink one-year deals for 2019

January 11th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with , and by reaching one-year agreements with all three players Friday.

Ozuna will make $12.25 million in 2019, while Wacha and Leone agreed to salaries of $6.35 million and $1.26 million, respectively, according to a source. The Cardinals have no outstanding arbitration cases remaining. 

These were among a flurry of contracts finalized across Major League Baseball on a day when teams and their arbitration-eligible players were slated to exchange desired salary figures. Though negotiations could have continued beyond Friday, the Cardinals set the date as an unofficial deadline to find a middle ground.

That's the result of recently adopting a file-and-trial policy as it relates to arbitration matters. In what's become a common practice across baseball, the Cardinals let representatives of their players know that they intend to end negotiations once numbers are exchanged and instead turn their focus toward preparing for a hearing.

This year, there is no such need.

Ozuna, who earned a salary increase from the $9 million he earned in 2018, returns as the team's starting left fielder. He slashed .280/.325/.433 over his first 148 games with the Cardinals. Shortly after the season ended, Ozuna underwent a cleanup procedure in his right shoulder to address inflammation that had bothered him all year.

Both Wacha and Leone also fought through injuries in 2018. Wacha, who made $5.3 million last year, seemed poised to be an All-Star when his season came to an abrupt end in June due to an oblique strain. Leone was limited to 29 appearances out of the bullpen because of a nerve issue.