Resigning an 'Energized' Wainwright is Low Risk Move by Cardinals

"Ultimately if he pitches, then there's more money and if he doesn't then we shake hands."

October 17, 2018 - 4:15 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The one-year deal with 37-year-old Adam Wainwright came together a lot quicker than St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak anticipated. It was a move that a few months ago, Mozeliak probably wouldn't have entertained. 

"It's sort of an amazing story. You know I thought we were going to be talking about his great career and what he meant to the franchise and the organization and what a special friend he was," Mozeliak says. "And then obviously he had that late season success."

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Since 2014, Wainwright has dealt with injuries to his knee, Achilles tendon, back and elbow. He's tried to push through pain and pitch as long as he could, even when he couldn't reach 90mph off the mound. When he left a game in the second inning on May 13, some thought that was the last time we'd see Wainwright in a Cardinals uniform.

But he got healthy. He was lights out in his minor-league rehab starts and St. Louis won three of his four September starts in his MLB return. 

That's why Mozeliak reached out to Wainwright's agent soon after the season was over and the sides were "quickly" able to work out a deal that Mozeliak saw as very low risk for St. Louis.

"Ultimately if he pitches, then there's more money and if he doesn't then we shake hands," Mozeliak says. "But physically and mentally where he is today, it reminds me of almost like 2014. I mean he's just energized, which is great to see."

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The details of the contract have not been released, but judging by Mozeliaks comments, it is a considerably smaller salary than the $19.5 million he earned in 2018. The contract has been reported to include many performance-based incentives. 

It's something both sides are obviously excited about, as Wainwright shared a message about his excitment for 2019 on his Big League Impact charity website. It reads, in part:

"As I look back at my time here in St. Louis, many things come to mind. Championships and World Series parades. Hugging Yadi after closing out a big game ...

"I am already preparing for next season. Our young players are super talented, and our front office is committed to winning."

His role in 2019 has not yet been determined and Mozeliak didn't give any hints on if he sees Wainwright as a bullpen piece rather than a starter. Mozeliak did say there are "about 10 names" that come up when talking about who's in contention for St. Louis' 2019 starting rotation.