Mulder accepts deal to stay with St. Louis

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Left-handed starting pitcher Mark Mulder, shown making a delivery last season before his injury, agreed on Wednesday to a $13 million, two-year deal to stay with the Cardinals. (GENE J. PUSKAR ~ Associated Press)

The left-handed pitcher is expected to sign an incentive-laden contract and return to the rotation in the middle of the 2007.

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder is staying with the St. Louis Cardinals, agreeing Wednesday to $13 million, two-year contract that could be worth up to $45,075,000 over three seasons.

The 29-year-old left-hander, recovering from rotator cuff surgery, is expected to miss the first half of next season. He also had been negotiating with the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.

"Mulder's return will be a real boost to our rotation," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We've seen what he is capable of when healthy. Mark is very determined to return to his All-Star form."

St. Louis also agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal with right-hander Ryan Franklin and minor league contracts with outfielder Rick Ankiel and infielder Jolbert Cabrera.

Ankiel, a one-time pitching phenom trying to return to the major leagues as an outfielder, missed last season with a knee injury.

Mulder gets $5 million this year and $6.5 million in 2008, and the Cardinals have an $11 million option for 2009 with a $1.5 million buyout.

He can earn $6,525,000 in bonuses this year based on starts, getting the full amount with 35, and any of those bonuses earned would be added to his 2008 salary. He can earn $3.75 million in performance bonuses in 2008, and his 2009 option could increase to an amount matching his 2008 salary.

If he earns all the performance bonuses, Mulder would make $11,525,000 this year and $16,775,000 in each of the following two seasons.

He was 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in 17 starts last year. He was sidelined from June 22 to Aug. 23 due to rotator cuff damage and what the team called an impingement in the shoulder, which had caused him to alter his delivery. He went back on the DL on Aug. 31.

Mulder had 88 wins the previous five seasons, tied for the most in the major leagues in that span, including a 16-8 record in his first season with St. Louis in 2005. He has a career record of 103-57 with a 4.11 ERA.

When he returns, he'll bolster a rotation missing several of the pitchers who helped the Cardinals win their first World Series title since 1982. Jeff Suppan signed with the Brewers and Jason Marquis left for the Cubs.

Braden Looper, a career reliever, could wind up as a starter behind ace Chris Carpenter, free agent addition Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes.

"After a long and difficult process, Mark is thrilled to have an opportunity to rejoin his teammates on the Cardinals," said his agent, Gregg Clifton. "He is obviously working on a daily basis on his rehab to return to the mound as soon as possible."

Franklin, 34, played for the Phillies and Reds last season and appeared in a career-high 66 games while going 6-7 with a 4.54 ERA in 77 1/3 innings, 10th among NL relievers. He started 30 or more games for the Seattle Mariners from 2003 to 2005 and topped 200 innings in 2003 and 2004.

Franklin could make an additional $1 million in bonuses based on starts, getting the full amount if he makes 29.

"Ryan's a durable pitcher who can help us in a number of ways," Jocketty said. "We'll bring him to camp and see where he is best suited to help our staff."

Ankiel, 27, batted .259 with 21 homers and 75 RBIs for Class AA Springfield and Class A Quad Cities in his first full season as an outfielder in 2005.

Cabrera, 34, has played in Japan the last two seasons and hit .260 with eight homers and 50 RBIs last season for the Fukuoka Hawks. He last played in the majors as a reserve with the Mariners in 2004.

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