If Friday’s agreement on a one-year contract to avoid an arbitration hearing proves to be a steppingstone to something longer in the future, Cardinals third baseman David Freese knows there’s more to it than just negotiations.

“Going through the arbitration process you learn what it means to stay in this game long enough and get an opportunity like that,” said Freese, the 2011 World Series MVP and a St. Louis County native. “I want to be a Cardinal for life. If a long-term deal is going to happen I know for a fact that I have to do some things. I have to be a leader. I have to do what I do on the field. I have do the things expected of me.

“I’m turning 30, and it’s time,” Freese continued. “It’s time to take a leadership role with this team, to accept that accountability.”

The Cardinals announced Friday afternoon a one-year deal with their starting third baseman. Freese, who made $508,000 last season, used his first year of arbitration eligibility to earn a raise to $3.15 million for the coming season. The agreement means the Cardinals have signed all five arbitration-eligible players.