Three days after being announced as the Cardinals opening-day starter, Miles Mikolas agreed to stay in St. Louis much longer.
St. Louis and the All-Star right-hander agreed to a $68 million, four-year contract covering 2020-23, a deal announced Tuesday that raises his pay to $75.5 million over the next five seasons.
“Going forward in my baseball career there isn’t a team that I can see myself as a better fit and no team that I’d rather see myself playing for than the St. Louis Cardinals,” Mikolas said.
St. Louis made the announcement at the Cardinals spring training facility, a few miles from where Mikolas played his high school baseball. Growing up he attended many St. Louis spring training games.
The 30-year-old is getting $7.5 million this year as part of a contract he signed before the 2018 season. He would have been eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.
He gets a $5 million signing bonus, of which $1 million is payable within 30 days of the contact’s approval by the commissioner’s office and $1 million each Jan. 15 from 2020-23. He gets $15.75 million salaries annually from 2020-23, and if he pitches 200 innings this year his pay under the new deal would increase by $500,000 each season.
Mikolas returned from three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Central League and tied for the NL lead in wins, going 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA.
“Clearly, how Miles pitched last year, he ended up being the anchor of our rotation,” St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “I think 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 that natural person to take that next step to carry that for the St. Louis Cardinals.”
If Mikolas’ 2019 performance is similar to what he did last year, he likely would have received far more as a free agent next offseason. Free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin received a $140 million, six-year contract from Washington as a free agent this offseason.
A seventh-round selection by San Diego in the 2009 amateur draft, Mikolas pitched in relief for the Padres in parts of the 2012 and 2013 before being traded to Pittsburgh and then Texas. When the Rangers released Mikolas following the 2014 seasons he headed to Japan.
“That was a leap saying, hey, I’m going to go there and I’m going to be the best Japanese baseball player I can be and see where that leads me.” Mikolas said.
He went 31-13 record with a 2.18 ERA for the Giants, then signed a two-year deal with St. Louis that guaranteed $15.5 million and includes an escalator for innings that boosted this year’s salary by $1 million.
“He fits in so well with our team,” St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “His mentality is perfect for starting pitching, perfect for the grind of an entire long season. Keeps things light in the clubhouse, very focused on the mound. He’s all you can ask for from a teammate.”
Mikolas only walked 29 in 200 2/3 innings last season while striking out 146.
“I think he hasn’t really learned how to be a strikeout pitcher yet,” Wainwright said. “He’s such a strike thrower that it’s almost hard for him to get it out of the zone. What a great problem that is to have, right?”