Cards, Encarnacion agree to three-year deal

Updated: December 26, 2005, 6:41 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Outfielder Juan Encarnacion and second baseman Junior Spivey agreed to contracts with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, two more parts of the team's offseason rebuilding.

Encarnacion, who turns 30 in March, gets a $15 million, three-year deal. Spivey, 30, gets a $1.2 million, one-year contract. Both agreements are contingent on the players passing physicals.

Junior Spivey
Spivey

Juan Encarnacion
Encarnacion

"We have had Encarnacion at the top of our list among free agent outfielders this offseason," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "Spivey is someone we have expressed interest in for the past two or three seasons. He will be a strong candidate in what we envision to be a quality competition for playing time at second base."

Encarnacion gets $3.5 million next year, $5 million in 2007 and $6.5 million in 2008. He hit .287 with 16 home runs and 76 RBI last season for Florida, the best season of his eight-year career, and is a career .268 hitter with 128 homers and 119 stolen base.

Spivey, who can earn additional money in performance bonuses, split last season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals, batting .232 with seven homers and 24 RBI in 77 games.

"He's good in your clubhouse," said his agent, former big league pitcher Dave Stewart. "He's what I call an old-time player in a young player's body."

Encarnacion is expected to replace the retired Larry Walker in right field. The Cardinals also have a vacancy in left field after Reggie Sanders left as a free agent, and St. Louis could use a combination of So Taguchi, John Rodriguez or newly acquired Larry Bigbie there.

"We like his all-around makeup," Jocketty said of Encarnacion. "He hits for power, runs very well and plays a solid outfield. His addition helps us in getting a little younger in the outfield, yet he's still a player who has significant playing time and production at the major league level."

Last year's starting outfield featured Walker (38), Sanders (37) and Jim Edmonds (34), the lone holdover.

Spivey was the Brewers' Opening Day second baseman for the second straight season, appearing in 49 games before being traded to the Nationals on June 10 for pitcher Tomo Ohka. He would be the fourth starting second baseman in four years for the Cardinals.

Last year's starter, Mark Grudzielanek, signed with the Royals.

"With Spivey, [Aaron] Miles, and [Deivi] Cruz, joining our team this offseason, we feel that we have a number of strong candidates not only for second base, but also for needed depth off the bench," Jocketty said.

Spivey missed 63 games with a broken right arm sustained in batting practice in July.

Encarnacion, who previously played for Detroit, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Dodgers, is the second former Marlins player to join the Cardinals this winter. The other is right-handed reliever Braden Looper.

Earlier this offseason, the Cardinals signed left-hander Ricardo Rincon; traded left-handed reliever Ray King to Colorado for Bigbie and second baseman Miles; and signed backup catcher Gary Bennett and Cruz to one-year contracts.

Nearly half of the roster will be changed from last season's team, which won 100 games.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press