Cardinals ink Martinez to five-year deal

(Reuters) - All-Star pitcher Carlos Martinez has signed a five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals worth a reported $51 million, according to multiple media outlets on Thursday.

While the Cardinals did not disclose financial details of the deal, it would be the most lucrative contract for a first-time arbitration-eligible pitcher.

"Thinking ahead to the future, my age, I really thought it was an opportunity that I couldn't let go," the 25-year-old was quoted as saying on the Cardinals' website.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for me and my family to be able to do something like this. ... I've secured my future. I've secured my family's future. I'm going to be the same person on the mound. I'm just happy to be here in this position."

The agreement eliminated the need for an arbitration hearing and allowed the Cardinals to buy out at least two of Martinez's free-agent years. The Dominican Republic native was due to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

"Carlos has demonstrated that he is ready to take his position among the game's top pitchers for many years to come," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. "We are pleased to announce that he will be anchoring our starting rotation into the foreseeable future.

"Carlos felt it was important to get something done now; so did the Cardinals. When you look at the future now, knowing that Carlos Martinez can anchor this rotation for the next five years, that feels and sounds pretty good to me."

Martinez paced the Cardinals pitching staff in wins (16) and strikeouts (174) last season while making a career-high 31 starts with 195.1 innings pitched.

The hard-throwing right-hander, a National League All Star in 2015, has delivered 30 wins over the past two seasons.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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