Cardinals, Harrison Bader Avoid Arbitration With Two-Year Extension

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The Cardinals and outfielder Harrison Bader have agreed to a two-year, $10.4MM contract extension, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (all Twitter links).  The deal will cover Bader’s final two years of salary arbitration eligibility, and he’ll now receive a $1MM signing bonus up front, and $4.7MM salaries in both 2022 and 2023.  Up to $2.25MM in incentive clauses can also be earned for the 2023 season, based on plate appearances or games-played thresholds.  Bader is represented by Vayner Sports.

There was a sizable gap between Bader and the Cardinals when the two sides submitted their arbitration figures, as Bader was looking for $4.8MM and the team countered with a $3.8MM number.  (Both figures were higher than the $3.7MM that MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected for Bader’s 2022 salary.)  The extension now means that a hearing is no longer necessary, and Bader’s arbitration process can be sidestepped entirely next winter.

It’s a nice payday for Bader, who has gone from being a backup outfielder to something of an under-the-radar five-tool talent.  There was never any question about Bader’s defense, and his excellent center field glovework was recognized with his first Gold Glove Award in 2021.  Bader is also a strong baserunner and could hit left-handed pitching, but questions persisted as to whether or not he could produce against right-handers.

Bader answered the critics last season, batting .273/.331/.458 with 12 homers over 326 PA against righties.  Oddly, this slash line actually topped his numbers against southpaws, yet the sum total was still a .267/.324/.460 slash and 16 homers over 401 plate appearances (110 wRC+, 116 OPS+).  Between this above-average offense and great defense, Bader was a 3.4 fWAR player in only 103 games, as he missed almost two full months of the season with forearm and rib injuries.

The extension takes care of one of the Cards’ two outstanding arb cases, as Tyler O’Neill has also yet to agree on his deal for the 2022 season.  However, MLB.com’s John Denton hears from a source that “progress is being made” toward an agreement with O’Neill.

More to come…

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