TODAY: Friday, May 12
Edmonds foregoes free agency to sign with Cards
ST. LOUIS -- It didn't take Jim Edmonds long to fall in love with St. Louis.
The Cardinals center fielder, acquired in March from the Anaheim Angels, agreed Friday to a $57 million, six-year contract extension. The deal runs through 2006 and includes a $10 million club option for 2007.
"We could not be more pleased than we are today," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "Jim is certainly one of the game's top players and to know he will be a major part of both this team and the community for many years to come is a real tribute to Cardinals fans."
Edmonds, 29, was leading the major leagues in several offensive categories, including batting (406), slugging percentage (.972) and on-base percentage (.532). He has a .295 career average.
"It's been a pleasure to play here for the first month, and I'm looking forward to staying here for the rest of my career," Edmonds said. "Hopefully I can last out the seven years."
Edmonds is making $4.5 million this season and would have been eligible for free agency after the World Series. The deal contains a $2 million signing bonus and calls for salaries of $6 million next year, $7 million in 2002, $8 million in 2003, $9 million in 2004, $10 million in 2005 and $12 million in 2006. If the Cardinals don't exercise their option, they must pay a $3 million buyout.
As part of the deal, Edmonds will make a $1 million contribution to Cardinals Care, the Cardinals charity that benefits area youth organizations. He also gets the power to submit a list each year of 23 teams he can't be traded to without his consent.
The deal is the longest in team history and it came together quickly, with the parties hammering out an agreement Tuesday night in San Francisco.
Jocketty said he doesn't remember a negotiation going as smoothly as this one did.
"There's no doubt that Jim could have commanded more had he tested the free agent market, but his desire to remain a Cardinal weighed heavily in his final decision," Jocketty said. "He feels that the team's chances of remaining competitive for the next several years are very good."
Like teammate Mark McGwire, who has salaries of $9 million this year and $11 million next year as his $38.5 million, four-year deal winds up, much of Edmonds' salary is deferred -- $1 million of each year's salary is deferred without interest.
"I wasn't trying to get a dollar for every person through the turnstile and a free house and a free plane and all that stuff," Edmonds said. "I just want to play baseball and have a place where I knew I could be for a while. I knew what I wanted and it made it pretty simple, pretty easy."
Jocketty didn't think a six-year deal was a huge risk, even though Edmonds has been with the team less than two months.
"It could end up being a bonanza for us," Jocketty said. "You have to take some risks, but I think based on what we've seen and the talent he has, he should be a very significant player for a number of years."
All of the Cardinals regulars are signed at least through next season. Earlier this year, the Cardinals signed second baseman Fernando Vina to a $15 million, three-year deal. Prior to the season, they signed shortstop Edgar Renteria and third baseman Fernando Tatis to contract extensions that run through 2003.
COMMENT: Dang! I wish we could've had a shot at him, but the Cards did the right thing. They are keeping a fantastic player. He's going to make those loser Angels regret trading him.