ST. LOUIS -- After 17 straight years of avoiding arbitration hearings, the Cardinals are now preparing to engage in two after changing their organizational approach to negotiating with arbitration-eligible players.
General manager John Mozeliak revealed that the club has shifted to a file-and-trial philosophy, meaning that any players still unsigned when arbitration numbers are exchanged will have his case settled at an arbitration hearing. That unofficial deadline passed on Friday with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez unable to reach agreements with the club.
Thus, instead of continuing those negotiations, the Cardinals have turned their attention to preparing for hearings, which will take place from Jan. 30-Feb. 17. The last time the Cardinals had a case go before an arbitrator, they defeated left-hander Darren Oliver in 1999.
"We get to find out how good we are at these," general manager John Mozeliak quipped.
The gap between the club's proposed salaries and the figures filed by both pitchers are not sizeable. The Cards submitted a $2.775 million salary for Wacha, who filed at $3.2 million. Martinez filed at $4.25 million, while the Cardinals came in at $3.9 million.
Mozeliak acknowledged that the club spoke with Martinez's agent about the parameters of a potential long-term deal, but those negotiations also fizzled.
"We did try to get that [done]," Mozeliak said. "It just never got to the goal."
Martinez declined to comment on past extension talks, stating that his agent was handling all negotiations. However, he did express interest in reaching a long-term deal with the organization at a future date. As it stands, Martinez is under team control for three more years.
"Hopefully, I can have a very long career with the Cardinals," Martinez said, speaking through a team translator. "I want to play my whole career with the Cardinals."
The Cardinals may revisit discussions about a long-term deal for Martinez after his arbitration hearing.
The organization is also deciding how to proceed with Yadier Molina's contract situation as he enters the final guaranteed year of his current deal. Molina, 34, holds a mutual option for 2018, but there is interest from both sides to solidify his status before that comes into play.
"It has been something that we have talked about in terms of what that might look like," Mozeliak said. "But when you talk about extensions … I think it's always best to keep that internal. But not to acknowledge that he has a year left with a mutual option wouldn't be fair either. So I think as we look at '17, it's certainly something we have to think through. He's made it no secret that he would like to find a way to stay here, and I would imagine that it's something that we will mutually try to do."