ST. LOUIS -- From the same category as "sun rises in East," the Cardinals declined a $15 million contract option on retired outfielder Larry Walker on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. Walker, the 1997 National League MVP and a three-time batting champion, will receive a $1 million buyout.
Walker, 38, endured a painful final year in the big leagues, battling a variety of maladies -- primarily a herniated disk in his neck that required multiple cortisone injections. Nonetheless, he was productive when he did play, batting .289 with a .384 on-base percentage, .502 slugging percentage, 15 home runs, 20 doubles, 52 RBIs and 66 runs scored in 315 at-bats.
However, even that fine level of play was beneath Walker's astronomical standards, considering that his lifetime line was .313/.400/.565. After going 3-for-28 (.107) in the postseason, Walker announced his retirement following the final game of the National League Championship Series.
Walker finishes with 2,160 base hits, 383 home runs, 1,311 RBIs, 1,355 runs and 230 steals in 306 attempts. He won NL batting titles in 1998, 1999 and 2001, won seven Gold Gloves and was a five-time All-Star. Walker's 409 total bases in 1997 were, at the time, the highest total in the Majors since 1948.
In addition, Cardinals assistant general manager John Mozeliak confirmed this week that the club has picked up a $4 million option on right-hander Jeff Suppan for 2006. MLB.com reported last week that the Cards had made that decision, but no announcement was made at the time.
Suppan, 30, has enjoyed two strong years since signing with the Cardinals before the 2004 season. He's 32-19 in a St. Louis uniform, posting ERAs of 4.16 in 2004 and a career-best 3.57 in 2005. He has also performed well in big games, pitching the clinching games of both the Division Series and National League Championship Series in 2004.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.