ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals plan to exercise Jaime Garcia's 2017 club option, which will pay the lefty starter $12 million next year and provide the organization with added rotation depth. General manager John Mozeliak confirmed the team's plans on Thursday, four days before a decision had to be made officially.
Mozeliak also noted that the club will decline its options on left fielder Matt Holliday and reliever Jordan Walden. Neither of those decisions is surprising. The Cardinals will owe Holliday a $1 million buyout, while Walden will receive $250,000 from the club before joining the free-agent pool.
Garcia was, in many ways, an enigma for the organization this year. Though he enjoyed his first healthy season since 2011, he produced inconsistent results. Over 32 appearances (30 starts), he posted his highest ERA (4.67) and WHIP (1.375) since 2008. Garcia tallied just 10 quality starts and was yanked from the rotation in mid-September due to continued struggles.
"It was definitely an up-and-down year for him," Mozeliak said on Thursday. "But I think from a physical standpoint, that was a good step forward. I think, also, from a performance standpoint, he was able to give you innings. I still believe he is a very capable pitcher at the Major League level."
Mozeliak described the decision to exercise Garcia's option as an easy one, given that it provides the Cardinals with enhanced rotation options. With the free-agent market thin on starting pitching, the Cards may use their surplus to flip a pitcher in order to address another need, like adding a center fielder.
Rotation depth could be critical, too, as the Cardinals have unresolved questions regarding some of their other projected starters. Lance Lynn will be returning from a season missed due to Tommy John surgery. Michael Wacha's viability as a starter is uncertain given a recurring shoulder injury. And Alex Reyes, if he breaks camp in the rotation, would need to have his workload monitored, as he's not yet ready to reach the 200-inning plateau.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.