Marmol, Cards agree to extension through '26

March 15th, 2024

JUPITER, Fla. -- While they were quick to point to the stability that Oliver Marmol will continue to bring to the only MLB franchise that he’s ever been a part of, the Cardinals encountered a bevy of questions on Friday about the timing of the two-year extension awarded to their manager considering the down year that both he and the club had endured a season earlier.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak responded to those questions by emphatically stating that the Cardinals firmly believe that Marmol is the right manager to take the organization out of the depths of 2023 and back to the playoffs in 2024.

Awarding Marmol, 37, with a two-year contract extension on Friday was the way of ensuring that both their manager since the start of the 2022 season and the club have the best platform from which to author a comeback story in the season ahead, Mozeliak said.

“The most important thing for Oli, the coaches or the players is to know that we stand behind them,” said Mozeliak, who aggressively landed starters Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson in free agency, and fortified the bullpen with the addition of Keynan Middleton and Andrew Kittredge.

“We believe in them. To go into the season with a … lame-duck manager just seemed to be the wrong strategy given the fact that with the roster we’ve assembled, we believe we’re going to be competitive.”

Marmol, who led the Cardinals to a 93-win playoff season in 2022 in his first season as an MLB manager and was at the helm for a tough '23 campaign, told that the contract extension came together quickly. He said he met with Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak on Thursday night, and they hammered out the specifics of the deal within a matter of hours.

Marmol’s three-year deal signed with the Cardinals in late 2021 after replacing the fired Mike Shildt was set to expire following this season. Signing a two-year contract extension allowed Marmol to feel more secure about his long-term future with an organization he has been a part of since 2007. What doesn’t change, Marmol stressed, is the expectation that the Cards rebound in 2024.

“It means a lot," Marmol said. "The fact that they were willing to make the commitment to allow me to continue to do this means a lot. Having their support and believing the way that I lead will be meaningful for years to come is special to me.

“Extension or no extension, the expectations for our organization and our fanbase are to win. I’d go about this [job] the same way one way or the other, but [the contract extension] removes certain distractions that allow us to focus on what’s at hand without having to answer questions [about his future].”

Not only are the Cardinals facing the prospect of having to open the season without starting outfielders Tommy Edman (wrist surgery) and Lars Nootbaar (two rib fractures), but they have one of game’s most rugged schedules in late March and early April.

The Cardinals open with four games against the rebuilt Dodgers and megastar Shohei Ohtani in Los Angeles and then get Shildt’s Padres -- one buoyed by this week’s addition of coveted right-hander Dylan Cease -- over the next three games. Then come three straight playoff teams from 2023 -- the Marlins, Phillies and D-backs -- to round out a challenging first 16 games for the Redbirds.

“We just don’t want something where if we stumbled, or got off to a slow start, all of a sudden everybody is looking over their shoulders,” Mozeliak said. “It’s just not fair to everybody involved. The timing of this [contract extension] as we started thinking more and more about it, had to be dealt with now and not something midseason or at the end of the year.”

Marmol successfully navigated the final seasons for franchise icons Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina in 2022, when he helped guide the Cards to a National League Central title. However, St. Louis gave up a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series and never recovered en route to being swept by the Phillies.

The Cardinals experienced their worst season in more than three decades in 2023 when they started slowly, never recovered and traded off five pitchers at the Trade Deadline. As a result, they finished last in their division for the first time since 1990.

Now, Marmol won’t have to worry about his contract status as he attempts to get the Cardinals back into the World Series hunt in 2024.

“I’m passionate about the rich history of winning and the tradition of the Cardinals,” Marmol said. “To be able to [put] last year … [in the past] and get back on track, the commitment from Mr. DeWitt and [Mozeliak] means a ton to me.”