ST. LOUIS (AP) -Cardinals reliever Russ Springer, one of the bright spots for a team that won the World Series in 2006 but didn't make the postseason this year, agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract.
The 38-year-old right-hander was 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA and appeared in a career-high 76 games while limiting opposing batters to a .181 average. His ERA ranked seventh among NL relievers and his victory total was a career best.
St. Louis last week exercised an $8 million option on closer Jason Isringhausen, who went 32-for-34 in save chance. Ryan Franklin agreed in July to a $5 million, two-year extension.
``A large part of our bullpen's success last season can be attributed to Suss,'' interim general manager John Mozeliak said. ``He, along with Izzy and Franklin represent a solid trio at the back end of our bullpen.''
Springer had a $1 million base salary last season and made $250,000 in performance bonuses. He had been eligible for free agency and said the Cardinals gave him a ``nice bump'' in salary, although he declined to reveal exact terms.
The Cardinals initiated talks only two days ago, clinching a deal when they assured them the franchise intended to contend next season.
``I was telling my agent to hang loose, see what happened and see what the market value was,'' Springer said. ``They said they wanted to win, so I said, `Go ahead and do it.'''
Springer was uncertain whether his manager would be back, too. Tony La Russa is deliberating whether to return for a 13th season, and told team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. on Monday that he wanted to know who the new general would be before deciding.
``Hopefully Tony is back, and I want him back,'' Springer said. ``But if he's not, we'll deal with it.''
Springer had the team's top two scoreless innings streaks at 17 2-3 and 14 innings. He allowed only six of 27 inherited runners to score and struck out 66 in 66 innings. A veteran of 12-plus seasons, Springer is 33-40 with a 4.70 ERA.
This year allowed Springer to redeem himself after an injury-abbreviated 2003 season in St. Louis. The day after the Cardinals' season ended, Springer said he felt had some ``unfinished business'' in St. Louis. The new contract backed that up.
``The grass ain't always greener on the other side,'' Springer said. ``I've switched teams a lot. I like it here and my family is happy here. So there's really no use going anywhere else.''

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