Will the St. Louis Cardinals Sign Adam Wainwright to an Extension?

By Patrick Schmidt
Adam Wainwright St. Louis Cardinals
Benny Sleu-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has one year remaining on his contract and general manager John Mozeliak must sign the 31-year old pitcher to an extension prior to Opening Day.

Unfortunately, contract talks have been postponed after he and his representatives and the club were unable to come to an agreement on an extension prior to the start of Spring Training. Wainwright has said that that doesn’t mean that the two sides won’t come to an agreement prior to opening day, but rather they just didn’t agree at this time.

Memories of Albert Pujols tabling contract negotiations after he and the club were able to come to an agreement on an extension are sure to be brought up in this case, but Wainwright said he will remain open to negotiations during spring training and both sides said they won’t put any deadlines in place on any potential deal.

Breathe a sigh of relief.

Wainwright is two years removed from Tommy John surgery which cost him the 2011 season and last year went 14-13 with a 3.94 era in just under 200 innings of work. The losses were a career-high for Wainwright and his era was the highest it’s ever been as a starter and more than a run and a half higher than his 2.42 mark prior to the surgery.

I wouldn’t be too concerned about his numbers in 2012, and I would expect him to revert to the numbers he displayed from 2009-10 when he went 39-19 with an era of 2.5 and pitching more than 230 innings a year.

The Cardinals are likely trying to get Wainwright to sign a team-friendly contract now with dollar figures suggesting that he is on the downside of his career. When healthy, Wainwright is as good as any pitcher in the National League and is no doubt looking for a big payday in what figures to be his last chance to strike it rich. He is finishing up a six-year contract that paid him an average of $6 million per year, and could be looking for a six-year deal that averages at least $15 million.

Would the Cardinals be hesitant to give a 31-year-old pitcher a $90 million contract that runs until Wainwright turns 38 that’s already had Tommy John after seeing what happened to Chris Carpenter when they signed him to a deal as a free-agent in 2003?

My thinking is that they don’t want to give Wainwright a deal over four years and will be stubborn on the fact because of the injury history and the lost sunken money invested in Carpenter while he’s been injured in his late 30’s.

If Wainwright and the Cardinals can compromise on a five-year deal then I think they will come to an agreement, but I don’t think that is a deal that would happen before Opening Day.

One thing is for sure, the Cardinals have a lot of young arms in the system and will use that to their advantage in negotiations, but they can’t afford to let this drag out into the season and risk losing the staff’s ace.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on Sportstownchicago.com airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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