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Wellemeyer, Cardinals close to deal

Wellemeyer, Cardinals close to deal

ST. LOUIS -- Todd Wellemeyer could have a new contract with the Cardinals finalized by the end of the holiday weekend.

Wellemeyer and general manager John Mozeliak both said on Saturday that they expect to have something done soon. Wellemeyer is eligible for arbitration and one year away from free agency. Both sides said they do not anticipate completing anything longer than a one-year deal.

"I know it's getting close, I'll tell you that much," Wellemeyer said to reporters at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up.

Mozeliak confirmed that assertion, and also said that at least one other arbitration-eligible Cardinal could have a 2009 contract sooner than later.

"We have five 'arb' cases," Mozeliak said. "Hopefully in the next 24-48 hours, maybe by Monday, we have a couple of these done."

Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson represent the most likely candidates for a quick resolution. Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick may provide more difficult negotiations, but Mozeliak is hopeful that none of the five players will actually go to arbitration. Ankiel is especially challenging given his short tenure as an outfielder.

"That's definitely to me the most difficult one to pin down, even though I think it's easier than last year," Mozeliak said. "When you look as a first-time eligible [last year], there was nobody that looked like him. This year, there's definitely a player or two you could point to."

The Cardinals haven't had an arbitration hearing since 1999.

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

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