ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals solidified their rotation for the future Wednesday, signing left-hander Jaime Garcia to a four-year contract extension with club options for a fifth and sixth season.
"Jaime is one the best young arms in baseball," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We are excited to have him as part of the core of our pitching staff for years to come."
The 25-year-old Garcia leads the team in victories at the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.23 ERA, and was due to be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
If it got to that point, Mozeliak said the Cardinals likely would have focused on a one-year deal. Garcia was willing to forego the marketplace in exchange for security and said, "They're excited, we're excited."
Garcia said he's done his best to focus on pitching, and now will have no other issues cluttering his mind. He's tied for the NL lead with two shutouts and has a major-league best 1.14 ERA to go with a 6-1 record at home.
"I feel like I was doing a pretty good job staying focused," Garcia said. "But now there's nothing else on my mind when I'm working out on days in between, other than getting ready for my game."
Garcia was third in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting last season, going 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA a year after reconstructive elbow surgery. The ERA was the lowest by a Cardinals left-hander since John Tudor had a 2.40 ERA in 1990.
"I've worked so hard my whole life to get to this point," Garcia said. "It's not going to change anything at all with me, I'm going to be the same guy and keep working really hard."
The next couple of weeks, the Cardinals will be trying to add arms for the rest of 2011. St. Louis is tied for the NL Central lead with Milwaukee despite injuries to several key players and would like to add a left-handed reliever and possibly another starter.
"I think the likelihood of us getting a starter is pretty small," Mozeliak said. "We're going to try to be really open to anything if we think we can better the club."
The Brewers added bullpen help Tuesday, acquiring Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez.
"It should better their club, but as far as being reactionary to what happens in our division, that's never been our approach," Mozeliak said. "The best way to approach it is to always worry about yourself."