ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals continue to enjoy an under-the-radar Winter Meetings visit to San Diego, it may end up that the most significant aspect of their stay will be the groundwork laid not for a future acquisition but for ensuring a future stay.
Among the agents to visit with general manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday was a member of the Excel Sports Management team, which represents Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn. While Mozeliak would not discuss what topics or player names were discussed during the meeting, Mozeliak noted that it's "fair to say" Lynn was among the discussion points.
That's no surprise given that the Cardinals must work against the arbitration clock to sign Lynn, a first-year arbitration-eligible player, before a hearing would be set in February. Lynn's negotiations may be among the most difficult of the Cardinals' arbitration-eligible bunch.
Lynn, after earning $535,000 in 2014, is likely to see his salary rise significantly in light of the three seasons he's had since joining the rotation, and the precedent set by comparable starting pitchers. That's another reason Mozeliak's meeting with Lynn's representative may have included an exploration beyond just the necessary. Lynn absolutely fits the profile of someone the Cardinals would approach about a multi-year deal, as they did with Allen Craig in 2013 and Matt Carpenter in 2014.
The benefit of striking an agreement of longer than one year? The Cardinals would receive an element of cost certainty and could delay Lynn's free agency. In return, Lynn would get significant guaranteed dollars.
Another member of the Cardinals' rotation, John Lackey, may also have his contract restructured before Spring Training starts. Though Mozeliak has not yet met with Lackey's agent, he said he still hopes to do so before his Winter Meetings stay ends.
Though Lackey is set to earn the Major League minimum next season (just above $500,000) as part of a clause in his contract triggered by prior injury, the Cardinals are willing to entertain the possibility of reworking the deal to provide Lackey a little more compensation, likely through incentives and possibly through adding another year to the end of the deal.
Mozeliak would not speculate on how the Cardinals would structure such a proposal, nor are the Cardinals obligated to do so.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.