Edmonds, Cards agree to extension

Edmonds, Cards agree to extension

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals locked up the dean of their roster and one of their core players on Friday, agreeing to a two-year contract extension with center fielder Jim Edmonds. The deal ensures that Edmonds will be a Cardinal through the 2008 season.

The announcement comes one day before the club's deadline to exercise or decline a 2007 option on the eight-time Gold Glove winner. Edmonds has been a Cardinal since 2000, when he was acquired from the Angels for Adam Kennedy and Kent Bottenfield. He won Gold Gloves in each of his first six seasons in St. Louis, and his 229 home runs in a Cardinals uniform rank fourth on the franchise's all-time list.

"We couldn't be more pleased to have this extension worked out with Jim," general manager Walt Jocketty said in a press release issued by the team. "Jim is one of the true leaders for our team both on and off the field, and it's not just coincidence that he has been such a big part in creating and maintaining a winning attitude ever since his arrival in 2000. We hope that today's announcement will serve as the first step in assuring that Jim Edmonds finishes his great career as a St. Louis Cardinal."

The Cardinals held a $10 million option on Edmonds for 2007, the end of the first contract he signed with St. Louis before the 2001 season. Instead, however, the deal will keep him in place for two more seasons. At the end of the new deal, Edmonds will be 38.

According to The Associated Press, Edmonds will make $8 million in 2007, $8 million in 2008 and receive an additional $3 million in deferred money, spread out from 2010-2019. The two-year duration turned out to be a good fit for both parties.

"We made a proposal," Jocketty said, "they countered, we accepted and that was the end of it."

"In that regard, it was amazing," said Paul Cohen, Edmonds' agent. "We obviously didn't speak until after the World Series, because Jimmy's and the team's focus was in another place. And then once we started speaking, we tried to say, 'OK, where are we going to be able to have a middle ground, where it can be win-win for everybody?' And it looked like it wasn't going to be at one year.

"So once we got to the point where we both wanted two years, then we were able to build momentum and make something happen."

It was a difficult year for Edmonds, who battled shoulder and foot injuries as well as post-concussion syndrome. He was limited to 110 games in 2006, his lowest total since 1999, and his offensive numbers suffered across the board. The lefty-swinging outfielder batted .257/.350/.471 (average/on-base/slugging) with 19 homers, 70 RBIs and 52 runs scored -- his lowest figures since 1999.

Still, even those numbers rated him among the more productive center fielders in the league, and Edmonds was a significant contributor in the playoffs. He went 4-for-13 in the National League Division Series, hit two home runs in the National League Championship Series and totaled 10 RBIs in the '06 postseason. He has 13 career postseason home runs.

Edmonds is expected to undergo a relatively minor "cleanup" surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder next week. According to Cohen, the foot condition is expected to clear up with rest, though it was extremely painful and required constant maintenance throughout the postseason.

"We got a chance to see him play for a month, and he played well," Jocketty said. "With Jim, we don't worry about, I guess, the best way to phrase it, is that Jim works very hard in the offseason and during the season to keep himself in top shape and to put himself in the best position to be available to play each night. So we have no concerns about that. We did have concerns about the post-concussion syndrome, because you just don't know what to expect. It has varying effects on guys."

And the two-year deal works well for Edmonds, who may decide to hang it up after this contract.

"There's always that chance," said Cohen, "because he's going to be playing at 37 and 38, and the nature of pro sports, it is what it is. But I don't think it's definitive. If he feels good in two years and he wants to play, then he will.

"It wasn't a case of, 'This is my final, retirement song, here it is.' It was, 'Hey, I love St. Louis. I've been thrilled here the last seven years. We have a great team. I love the community. Why would I want to mess with something that's been the happiest time of my life?'"

"He knows what to expect from us, his manager and coaches," Jocketty said. "It's everything -- the clubhouse guys, the trainers, the doctors, everything. It's so much easier. We're very happy and we hope that he ends up his career as a Cardinal."

Meanwhile, the duration may be a perfect fit for the Cardinals as well. Although they lack a reasonable replacement for Edmonds in the upper levels of the farm system, the organization's best prospect is center fielder Colby Rasmus. The 2005 first-round pick ended this year at high Class A Palm Beach, which may put him right on track for a 2009 arrival in the big leagues.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.