The St. Louis Cardinals are probably the most talented team the National League has to offer in 2012. After all, their run differential is second in the league, only behind the first-place Washington Nationals. Not bad for a team that lost arguably the best player in the game in Albert Pujols. The reason for most of the Cardinals success this season has been their starting rotation, especially the return of Adam Wainwright.
Wainwright – who missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery – didn’t start the season as well as he would have hoped, going 7-8 with a 4.56 ERA in the first half of the season. In the second half of the season, however, Wainwright has been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. In his nine starts in the second half, Wainwright has a 6-2 record with a 2.13 ERA, proving he is still one of the game’s elite pitchers. Why does Wainwright’s second half surge matter so much? Because after the 2013 season, Wainwright will be a free agent, which is why there are MLB rumors surrounding the Cardinals’ ace.
Wainwright has a $13 million team option in 2013, an option that might be a little too much for St. Louis. Wainwright – who turned 31 yesterday – wants a long-term deal, but doesn’t want to talk about it until the end of the season. In fact, he had this to say to Joe Strauss, St. Louis Dispatch reporter:
“I don’t want to do anything to create a distraction for me or the team.“
This isn’t a Pujols situation the Cardinals are dealing with here. Wainwright is signed through next season, so there’s no reason to create a situation that could be distracting. Talking a long-term extension is a double-edged sword for GM John Mozeliak. If he waits and Wainwright has a dominating 2013 season, he will cost even more. But if he has a down season due to his first full season back since Tommy John, the Cardinals can cut their losses.
If I had to guess, I bet the Cards will sign Wainwright to a 3-year $33-39 million deal this winter. But should they?
Check out our MLB Rumors page for the latest rumors involving your favorite teams.