Posted on November 12, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright isn’t ready to retire just yet. He’s also not interested in playing for any team other than the St. Louis Cardinals, the only major league team he’s pitched for since making his big league debut in 2005. That’s why Wainwright signed a one-year deal on Tuesday to remain with the Cardinals for the 2020 season. Financial terms have not been disclosed. However, the deal is likely similar to the contract he signed last year that included a $2 million base salary with incentives that ultimately paid Wainwright close to $10 million.
“We are excited to have Adam returning for 2020 and look forward to watching him continue to add to his tremendous career legacy with the Cardinals,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday.
The 38-year-old Wainwright is one of the most accomplished pitchers in team history. He’s the third-longest tenured pitcher in Cardinals history and ranks only behind Bob Gibson in strikeouts. As a rookie in 2006, Wainwright was an integral part of the St. Louis bullpen, helping the Cardinals win the World Series. He moved to the starting rotation the following season and outside of a few injury-plagued years has been a constant figure in the St. Louis rotation ever since.
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Wainwright’s career looked to be all but over after elbow issues limited him to just eight starts in 2018. But he came back healthy in 2019, starting 31 games for the Cardinals. More importantly, he proved to still be an effective pitcher, going 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA. He also made two starts and one relief appearance during the postseason, posting a 1.62 ERA over 16.2 innings despite taking a tough-luck loss in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Nationals.
Bringing back Wainwright helps the Cardinals to solidify their starting rotation for the 2020 season. Youngsters Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty both pitched like frontline starters in 2019. The Cardinals are surely banking on those two to lead the rotation next season and beyond. Meanwhile, Wainwright will slot in alongside Miles Mikolas, giving the Cardinals a pair of steady veterans to anchor the back end of the rotation.
Obviously, that leaves one open spot in the St. Louis rotation with Michael Wacha now a free agent. However, there are several internal options for that spot. Carlos Martinez could move back to the rotation after spending 2019 in the bullpen after starting the year on the IL because of shoulder trouble. Alex Reyes is another option as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Youngsters like Genesis Cabrera and Austin Gomber are also options.
At first glance, re-signing Wainwright might seem like a minor move. But it’s a great way for the Cardinals to start their offseason. Given the team’s offensive struggles last year that became their downfall in the NLCS, the Cardinals need to spend money this winter improving their offense. Bringing back Wainwright is a way to solidify their rotation in a cost-effective manner, leaving more money to spend on their lineup. It also doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals are retaining an iconic figure in their franchise and a veteran pitcher who can help to continue molding young aces like Flaherty and Hudson.