The Cardinals have avoided arbitration with reliever Jordan Walden on a two-year deal that will pay him $6.6 million over the next two years, according to a major-league source. The deal also includes a $5.25 million team option for 2017, which was projected to be Walden's first year of free agency.
Walden, 27, was acquired by the Cardinals along with Jason Heyward in a four-player swap with the Braves in mid-November. His new deal gives the Cardinals an added year of team control with the option, and ensures that he will not have to negotiate a new contract before each of the next two seasons.
In five major league seasons, Walden has established himself as a reliable bullpen piece, posting a lifetime 3.10 ERA and 38 saves in 231 appearances with the Angels (2010-2012) and Braves (2013-2014). In 58 appearances with Atlanta last season, Walden posted a 2.88 ERA and 11.2 K/9.