The club avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan on Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal shortly before they would have exchanged arbitration figures. The club did not disclose the value of the contract, but a source told MLB.com that the pact is worth approximately $2.5 million.
That leaves one arbitration-eligible player for the Cardinals to sign. Right-hander Jason Motte and the team exchanged figures Tuesday. Motte requested $2.4 million for a 2012 salary, while the club offered $1.5 million.
Motte and the Cardinals still have at least two weeks to work out a deal and avoid an arbitration hearing. Hearings run from Feb. 1-21, and Motte and the club can work out a deal up until a hearing begins. If the two parties go to arbitration, the arbitrator will choose one figure or the other -- with no in-between -- and that will be Motte's salary for 2012.
McClellan, 27, was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He's coming off an unusual season in which he pitched as both a starter and a reliever. McClellan went 12-7 with a 4.19 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 43 walks in 141 2/3 innings. He projects as a middle or setup reliever for the Cardinals in 2012.
The right-hander, a St. Louis-area native, made $1.375 million in 2011 as a first-year arbitration-eligible player. Because arbitration cases are based heavily on comparable players, McClellan's case might have been a complicated one since he started and relieved in 2011.
Motte, 29, emerged as the Cardinals' closer late in 2011. In his third full season as a Major League pitcher, he went 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA, nine saves, 27 games finished, 63 strikeouts and 16 walks in 68 innings pitched.
The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when they won their case against left-hander Darren Oliver. St. Louis previously reached agreement on a two-year pact with infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker and non-tendered infielder Ryan Theriot. They were the club's other two arbitration-eligible players at the end of the season.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.