That puts them in position to receive Draft-pick compensation if any of them sign with other teams this offseason. Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Joel Pineiro all received arbitration offers, the club announced.
Troy Glaus, the only other Cardinals free agent who was rated according to the compensation system, was not offered arbitration. Holliday is a Type A free agent, while DeRosa, Pineiro and Glaus are Type B.
Over the past few years, St. Louis has sometimes been hesitant to offer arbitration to free agents, fearing the players would accept and thus hamstring the club financially. This time around, the circumstances were different.
"It's not so much a philosophy change," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We wanted to understand our risk. One of the things we've stated is that we're going to look for a starting pitcher, and we prefer to do a shorter-term [contract] than long-term. So if he were to accept, having Joel Pineiro on a one-year contract is a good fit for us. And the same could be said for DeRosa."
As for Holliday, an offer was automatic. If a player accepts arbitration, it is tantamount to agreeing to a one-year contract for 2010. The terms of that contract can then be negotiated or can be determined through an arbitration hearing. It's almost inconceivable that Holliday, this offseason's top free agent, would agree even in concept to a one-year deal.
For a Type A free agent, the compensation is the signing team's first-round pick in the 2010 Draft, as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. That is unless the signing team holds one of the top 15 picks, in which case the signing team would give up its second-round selection, not its first-rounder.
In the case of Type B free agents, the Cardinals would receive only a sandwich pick as compensation.
Mozeliak noted that this year the Draft picks may have extra meaning to the Cardinals. The club traded several prospects in acquiring Holliday and DeRosa, and even last winter in getting Khalil Greene from the Padres.
"We gave up a lot this past season," Mozeliak said. "And so if we could have the opportunity to replenish some picks, [we'd like to do that]."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.