BALTIMORE, MD: Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia #54 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cardinals' Jaime Garcia Signs Long-Term Contract Extension

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Cardinals Lock Up Jaime Garcia Through 2017

Well, it's official (via MLB.com's Evan Drellich):

The Cardinals and left-hander Jaime Garcia agreed Wednesday on a four-year contract extension with club options that could keep him with St. Louis through 2017.

The deal is for a reported $27.5 million over the four guaranteed seasons.

--snip--

The extension covers Garcia's three years of arbitration eligibility as well as his first potential year of free agency. The option years would cover his second and third years of potential free-agent eligibility.

How good has Garcia been, since joining the Cardinals' rotation last April? Among National League starters with at least 250 innings over the last season-and-a-half, Garcia's 2.92 ERA ranks third, behind only Roy Halladay (2.44) and Cole Hamels (2.77).

The Cardinals have been careful with Garcia, limiting him to 163 innings last season and 117 (so far) this season. He's already gone through Tommy John surgery, and obviously the recovery went exceptionally well. There are no guarantees with pitchers, young or old. But Garcia seems like a pretty good bet to pitch effectively through the next four to six seasons.

Which means $27.5 million over the four guaranteed seasons looks like a bargain for the Cardinals. We can't fully evaluate this deal without knowing the dollars for those two option years, but we can guess they're club-friendly, too.

This is the way it's supposed to work. If I'm a Cardinals fan, I'm absolutely thrilled. As a baseball fan, I'm happy for everyone.

For more about Garcia and the Cardinals, please visit Viva El Birdos.

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Report: Cardinals' Jaime Garcia Signs Long-Term Contract

There's been no official confirmation, but Wednesday morning Jon Heyman tweeted this:

jaime garcia & cardinals complete multiyear deal. announcement could come today. word is, $27.5mil for 4 yrs, plus 2 options

For the Cardinals, those two option years are the key. They'll presumably save a fair amount of money in those first four years, but adding two years of player control means a great deal, particularly if the club retains the ability to trade Garcia.

Not that they're likely to want to trade him. As a rookie in 2010, Garcia posted a 2.70 ERA that ranked fourth in the National League; in most seasons, he probably would have garnered Rookie of the Year honors. In 2011, he's been even better, maintaining his strikeout and ground-ball rates while cutting his walks by nearly a third. As long as Garcia's healthy and working with Dave Duncan, there's absolutely no reason to think he won't annually be one of the very best pitchers in the National League. Getting him locked up is fantastic news for Cardinals fans.

For more about Garcia and the Cardinals, please visit Viva El Birdos.

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