The route to a game at Roger Dean Stadium was a lot shorter when Miles Mikolas was a kid growing up in nearby Tequesta, Fla., but after a detour through Japan, he has found his way back to that ballpark.
As momentum starts to build for a winter that they hope will reshape their roster, the Cardinals signed Mikolas to a two-year contract Tuesday that will guarantee the righthanded starter $15.5 million. A native of the Jupiter, Fla., area who came to Cardinals spring training games as a boy, Mikolas, 29, returns to the majors for the first time since 2014 and after three resounding seasons in Japan’s top league. He went 14-8 this past season for Yomiuri with a 2.25 ERA and eight strikeouts for every walk.
“Our scouts have watched him as he refined his repertoire, improved his velocity and became one of the most effective pitchers in Japan the last couple (of) seasons,” wrote general manager Michael Girsch in an email.
Mikolas received overtures from several teams and was at least once identified as a target of the Cubs this winter. Among the reasons he chose the Cardinals was a chance to remain close to home for spring training and a family connection to St. Louis: His aunt was a principal at Incarnate Word Academy. Mikolas’ salary in the second year could climb if he meets innings pitched incentives in 2018, and the Cardinals see him as a contender for a starting spot.
He is also preparation.
The Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants continue to await word on Giancarlo Stanton’s decision and whether he would waive his no-trade rights from Miami to accept either of his most aggressive suitors. Both teams met with Stanton and his representatives last week in Los Angeles, and the Cardinals left the West Coast unsure if Stanton preferred it as a destination or could be swayed to the Midwest by the team the Cardinals have in mind for 2018 and beyond.
The Cardinals have made a compelling offer to Miami, according to sources, and in addition to taking on more of the $295 million remaining on Stanton’s contract they have been willing to trade the better package of players, including an elite pitching prospect such as Sandy Alcantara or Jack Flaherty. Both have been discussed by Marlins.
Cardinals Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong used social media Tuesday to lobby Stanton on behalf of the team. On Instagram, Wong referred to…