ST. LOUIS -- A nine-year streak may come to an end this month.
The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when they won their case against left-hander Darren Oliver. However, general manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday that little progress has been made in bridging the gaps between the club and outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.
"There's not a whole lot to comment on," Mozeliak said when asked about the two cases. "Right now we're just preparing. I think if there is a settlement before we enter in, it would be a [last-minute] type of thing."
St. Louis has already avoided arbitration with three players. Brad Thompson, Todd Wellemeyer and Chris Duncan all agreed to one-year deals last month, shortly after filing for arbitration. The club has suspected all along that Ludwick and Ankiel would provide more difficult tests.
Ludwick asked for $4.25 million, while the Cardinals countered with an offer of $2.8 million. The gaps of $1.45 million and 51.8 percent were among the highest when players and club submitted figures on Jan. 20. Ankiel asked for $3.3 million, while the Cardinals offered $2.35 million.
"I think the Ankiel case is unique, there's no doubt about that," Mozeliak said. "And then in Ludwick's case, I am a little optimistic on it, but I think that's going to take a little more time to sort through."
Still, Mozeliak said there's very little negotiation going on at this point between the Cardinals and either player's agent. Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Ludwick, while Scott Boras represents Ankiel.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.