ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Just 24 hours after the announcement of Yadier Molina’s contract extension, the Cardinals announced a long-term deal for outfielder Stephen Piscotty, signing him to a six-year deal with an option for a seventh,
“Stephen has certainly lived up to his billing as a first round draft choice with a promising future,” said Cardinal Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. Monday. “He has performed extremely well in his first year and a half in the big leagues and we look forward to him becoming a fixture in a Cardinals uniform.”
Piscotty pursued the extension with the Cardinals, having his agent reach out in late February to test the waters.
“I’d heard of players signing these types of deals and out of pure curiosity, I kind of wanted to know if it was something that could happen,” Piscotty said.
The 26-year-old said the initial numbers were very fair, and discussions we so amicable, the two sides continued to work quickly toward a deal.
The final product is a six-year deal worth a reported $33.5 million.
Piscotty is 33.5 for 6. Breakdown: 1.5 bonuses 1M in '17 and '18, 7M in '19 and '20, 7.5M in '21 and '22. 15M '22 option/1M buyout— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 3, 2017
Piscotty has just one year of service time in the majors, and his first full season was impressive, yielding an .800 OPS with 22 homers and a .273 average. Under such circumstances, signing a deal this early in his career could be viewed as premature. If his numbers go up as free agency nears, his leverage to demand more money would increase simultaneously.
However financial security is paramount for athletes. Piscotty could have waited and perhaps commanded $5 million more per year, but waiting carries risks. Baseball contracts are guaranteed, health and professional longevity are not.
“I love this organization and this deal gives myself and my future family financial security,” Piscotty said. It also gives him the freedom to focus solely on baseball, and not worry about business.
“To have that relief is very valuable to me,” he said.
Piscotty joins Carlos Martinez and Molina as long-term extensions issued by the Cardinals heading into the 2017 season.
Along with Kolten Wong’s pre-arbitration contract last spring and Matt Carpenter’s a few seasons prior, Martinez and Piscotty’s deals signal a clear commitment from the Cardinals to build and secure from within, even if it means moving up financial timetables.
“When you look at the climate of baseball right now and the free agent market, it’s not a place we’re going to have a lot of success in if we’re going to rely on it,” General Manager John Mozeliak said. “To be able to lock up our young and talented players, it means a lot to our future.”
That those young, talented players are actively pursuing early deals with the Cardinals should be a point of pride for the franchise as well.
Piscotty sought the deal and said the decision was easy once talks progressed. He praised the culture and the clubhouse multiple times in his press conference. He thanked his teammates early and often.
“I’m surrounded by winners, competitors and outright studs,” he said. “This team this year is special.”
The adoration is a two-way street.
Piscotty is a tremendous face for the franchise long-term, both as a player and off-field personality. He has the respect of his teammates and the heart of the coaches, especially because of his openness to learn and adapt.
“I pride myself on two things. One being a competitor, and being very coachable,” he said.
“The talent is easy to see, but some of those intangibles, you can just dream about how much better it’s going to make them in the long run,” manager Mike Matheny said.
The deal buys up all of the club control years for Piscotty, giving him a deal through 2022; 2023 if the option is exercised. It gives Piscotty the longest-running contract on the team as the 2017 season begins.
With the acquisition of Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil this offseason, in addition to their three contract extensions the Cardinals have now spent more than $250 million heading into the year.