Schumaker, Cardinals avoid arbitration

Schumaker, Cardinals avoid arbitration

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals got some cost certainty and Skip Schumaker got some security. Schumaker agreed to a two-year deal with the club on Monday, avoiding arbitration.

The club did not disclose the contract's dollar value. A Major League source told MLB.com that the pact could be worth $5 million over two seasons if Schumaker reaches certain statistical plateaus. The source called the incentive clauses "very achievable."

Schumaker had requested $2.75 million in arbitration in 2010, while the Cardinals had offered $1.45 million, leaving a midpoint of $2.1 million. According to the source, Schumaker's base salary in 2010 will be lower than the midpoint but a season similar to what he managed in 2009 will get him to that number.

Schumaker, who turned 30 last Wednesday, has been a dependable performer at the top of the Cardinals' order in the past two seasons. In 2009, he batted .303 with a .364 on-base percentage, a .393 slugging percentage, 85 runs scored and a career-high 34 doubles and 52 walks. He did all of that while making the transition from the outfield to second base, a position he had never played before.

"We could have easily ended up just doing a one-year [deal]," general manager John Mozeliak said. "But we really felt that if we could come to an agreement that we both could stomach, it was worth doing. He gives us so much flexibility, and he's done such a good job for us that we wanted to reward him if we could."

Schumaker was the only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible Cardinal after Ryan Ludwick agreed to a one-year deal last month. The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when they won their case against left-hander Darren Oliver.

Along with being a productive player, Schumaker is one of the most well-regarded Cardinals among his teammates. He was voted the winner of the Darryl Kile Award in 2009, presented to the St. Louis player who most lives up to Kile's traits as "a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man."

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