The St. Louis Cardinals reached an extension with ace Adam Wainwright on Wednesday, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The deal that Wainwright and the team sought to complete before Opening Day will total $97.5 million over five years. Wainwright is now the franchise’s highest-paid player annually.
In lieu of a new deal, the Cardinals would have paid Wainwright $12 million in 2012 before he walked into free agency next offseason. The 31-year old right-handed pitcher recorded his best year in terms of ERA, strikeouts and WHIP in 2010 before missing 2011 following Tommy John surgery.
Wainwright’s most recent campaign saw a rise in ERA from 2.42 in 2010 to 3.94 in 2012 — his career ERA is 3.15 — but posted solid enough numbers overall that compare decently to his 2007-2008 lines.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak expressed optimism recently over talks with Wainwright’s agent, Steve Hammond, and it looks like that optimism was well warranted. The Wainwright signing was a key move by a team that recently lost long-time ace Chris Carpenter for the 2013 season (and perhaps for good), and gives the Cards a veteran anchor to their rotation for years to come.
Wainwright finished second in Cy Young voting in 2010 and third in 2009. He served as closer during the 2006 World Series title run but missed the 2011 win due to surgery. Now, the veteran starting pitcher returns to the rotation for a team seeking to improve on its 88 wins and to reclaim the National League Central.