Report: Cardinals, Flaherty avoid arbitration, settle on salary for 2022 season

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty throws during the first inning of a baseball...
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 3:46 PM CDT
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JUPITER, Fla. (KMOV) - A tradition usually reserved for the MLB off-season is taking place in the middle of spring training this season, as the deadline for exchanging contract figures for arbitration-eligible players came Tuesday afternoon.

Players qualify for the arbitration process after reaching three years of MLB service time and remain eligible each off-season until they reach six years of MLB service time. The Cardinals entered Tuesday looking for clarity on the statuses of seven arbitration-eligible players: Outfielders Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader, as well as pitchers Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes.

Where it was possible to do so, the team appears to have scheduled around their arb-eligible players when it came to Tuesday’s lineup against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, with starting pitcher Dakota Hudson being the notable exception.

Lineup regulars O’Neill and Bader were both out of Tuesday’s lineup as they awaited more clarity on their contract statuses. Manager Oli Marmol didn’t concede that the arbitration situations were responsible for those lineup decisions, but said both would be back in the Cardinals’ lineup Wednesday.

Information has trickled in throughout the day on those who have reportedly agreed to contracts Tuesday, thus avoiding an arbitration hearing. Shortly after he finished throwing 40 pitches in two scoreless innings Tuesday afternoon (allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one batter), it became public that Hudson agreed with the Cardinals on a deal worth just a shade over $1 million for the season.

After going the distance in the arbitration process and winning his hearing in his first year of arb-eligibility last season, Flaherty was a notable name who reportedly settled on a salary with the Cardinals for 2022. He will reportedly earn $5 million in his second season of arb-eligibility this year.

Flaherty is expected to miss the beginning of the regular season after getting a PRP injection in his shoulder last week. Jordan Hicks, arbitration-eligible for the first time this year, reportedly agreed with the Cardinals at a salary of $937,500 for 2022. Hicks is progressing through a relatively normal spring regimen following a 2021 campaign that was impacted by recurring elbow troubles for the 25-year-old right-hander.

For players who did not agree on a salary with the Cardinals on Tuesday, an arbitration hearing date will be set to determine their 2022 salary. Within the rules of the process, a settlement can still be reached between the two sides in advance of that hearing, but the Cardinals have in recent years shown more willingness to deploy a ‘file and trial’ approach to salary arbitration. This implies that once the filing deadline arrives without an agreement--and Tuesday was that day for this year--the team doesn’t continue negotiating toward a 2022 agreement, allowing the process to play out in the hearing.

By the end of Tuesday, the player and the team will have exchanged salary figures. At the trial, the arbitration panel listens to the arguments of both sides and chooses either the player’s number or the team’s number as the player’s salary for the season. It’s one or the other, no in-between.

Last year, for example, Flaherty’s camp filed at $3.9 million. The Cardinals filed at $3 million. Flaherty won his hearing, officially setting his salary for 2021 at $3.9 million.