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12/02/07 12:01 AM ET

Eckstein's tenure in St. Louis likely over

Cardinals decline to offer veteran shortstop arbitration

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals elected on Saturday not to offer arbitration to shortstop David Eckstein, making it even more certain that Eckstein will not return for a fourth season in St. Louis.

When St. Louis signed free agent shortstop Cesar Izturis on Friday, it seemed clearly to signal the end of Eckstein's tenure as a Cardinal. However, one contrary possibility existed -- if the Cardinals offered arbitration to Eckstein in order to protect its Draft-pick compensation, and if Eckstein then elected to accept the offer. Such a sequence was unlikely, but now is impossible.

Eckstein is rated as a Type B free agent. That means that if the Cardinals had offered him arbitration, they would have received a supplemental-round draft pick as compensation when and if he signed with another team. Instead, they will receive no compensation.

The Cardinals will get one extra pick, however. Reliever Troy Percival, also a Type B free agent, signed with Tampa Bay before the deadline, automatically ensuring the sandwich-round pick for the Cardinals.

Per the latest collective bargaining agreement, ratified last offseason, teams do not lose the right to negotiate with players when they do not offer arbitration. It simply means they forfeit the potential Draft-pick compensation if the player signs with another team.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.