Cardinals sign Edman to 2-year deal to avoid arbitration

January 23rd, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- Avoiding the potential distractions that an arbitration hearing can sometimes create, the Cardinals inked center fielder to a two-year contract that will allow both sides to focus solely on the season ahead, the club announced on Monday. The contract is expected to be worth $16.5 million, a source told's Mark Feinsand, though the team did not disclose the terms.

Edman, the starting center fielder for 2024 as stated by manager Oliver Marmol, was seemingly headed for an arbitration hearing after he and the Cardinals were unable to reach a contract agreement before the Jan. 11 deadline. At the time, the two sides were $450,000 apart on a deal for 2024, with Edman wanting $6.95 million and the Cards offering $6.5 million. However, both Edman and Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak left the door open for a potential long-term deal that would keep Edman through the 2025 season.

“Tommy’s strong fundamental play, athleticism and versatility remain a valuable asset that we view as an important part of our team identity,” Mozeliak said in a press release.

Edman said last week at the Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up that he fully expected his agent and the Cardinals to have talks that might lead to a contract extension.

“I haven’t honestly given it too much thought because it’s so recent, but I imagine we will start to have conversations up to the hearing that will come up,” he said.

Edman can now shift his focus to fully recovering from the arthroscopic surgery he had on his ailing right wrist following the 2023 season. He said the wrist had hurt and hampered him from time to time over the past two seasons, and it finally got to the point where he needed a procedure to clear up the cartilage and bone damage. He spent three weeks on the injured list last July with right wrist inflammation.

Edman has only recently started swinging a bat, and he is hopeful that he will be ready for the start of the regular season. However, he figures to be limited throughout Spring Training when the full team reports to Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 18.

“I’m very confident that I’ll be ready for the season, and we’ll see what spring looks like just because of the hitting progression,” Edman said. “I think hitting will be the big step because there are so many steps that go along with that. You have to [hit off the] tee, then [hit] soft toss, then [batting practice], machine and then get into games again. We’ll take that day by day and figure out each step as my wrist responds to use.”

Edman hit .248 with 13 home runs and a team-high 27 stolen bases in 2023 while making starts at shortstop (46), second base (40), center field (37) and right field (six). His stellar defensive versatility in 2023 made him a Gold Glove finalist for the third straight season. He won the National League Gold Glove Award in 2021 as a second baseman and was a utility finalist in 2022 -- an award won by teammate Brendan Donovan.

In 596 career games with the Cardinals, Edman has hit .265 with 53 home runs, 222 RBIs and 106 stolen bases. His 89 stolen bases over the past three seasons are tied for the second most in the Majors with Trea Turner and Starling Marte, behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. (119).