By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – There was significance behind the location where the Cardinals announced Tuesday that they had signed pitcher Miles Mikolas to a four-year contract extension, running through the 2023 season.
“I think it’s really neat,” Mikolas said of the fact the news conference announcing the signing was at a stadium where he attended spring training games as he was growing up in Jupiter.
“We were on our way over here today and a kid, maybe a high school runner, was on the sidewalk,” Mikolas said. “I was that kid. I used to run down US 1, up over the bridge onto Jupiter Island and down to the beach. That was my workout.
“To be able to kind of see that come full circle, in the winter I’m still here running, I will still be running down the beach just like I was 20 years ago.”
Mikolas agreed to the extension, worth a reported $68 million, instead of testing the free agent market after this season. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and a signng bonus.
“There isn’t a team where I could see myself as a better fit,” Mikolas said. “No team I would rather see myself playing for than the Cardinals. My wife and I are ust super happy and overjoyed to be a part of the organization for the immediate and foreseeable future.
“Spring training being at home is huge, especially with little kids. Having some family in St. Louis (an aunt and cousins), that’s big. I was a free agent coming to the Cardinals so we already kind of did our homework and just felt St. Louis was a good fit. To extend that relationship makes sense.”
The fact the Cardinals train in Jupiter had a lot to do Mikolas’ decision to sign a two-year deal before last season, coming back to the major leagues after spending three years in Japan.
While the fit then was about location, he and the Cardinals found out last summer there was a great fir in the starting rotation as well.
Mikolas made the All-Star team and finished the year with an 18-4 record, tying for the most wins in the National League. He finished fourth in the league with a 2.83 ERA.
The 30-year-old Mikolas already has been named the starter for the regular-season opener on March 28 in Milwaukee.
“Clearly how Miles pitched last year, he ended up being the anchor of our rotation,” said John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. “When you combine his skill with his leadership and really his ability to help mentor young players, it just seemed like as we looked to the future he was the natural person to take that next step to carry that for the Cardinals. This was just something that seemed like a great fit.”
Mikolas was one of several Cardinals eligible to become free agents at the end of the season, a group that includes fellow starter Michael Wacha, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and left fielder Marcell Ozuna.
He said the stagnant market for free agent signings the last two off-seasons was not a factor in deciding to go ahead and sign the extension now.
“This is where I want to be,” he said. “If you’re in a situation like that, and you’re playing for a team that you want to keep playing for, then it’s never a bad idea to go about it before you are a free agent.”
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Photo from AP courtesy of KSDK Sports