Cardinals Bring Wainwright Back for 15th Season

photo: Adam Wainwright (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Adam Wainwright (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, October 11) that they have agreed to terms with veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright on a one-year contract for the 2019 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wainwright, 37, will be entering his 15th season with the Cardinals in 2019, matching Bob Forsch (1974-88) for the 3rd-most seasons as a pitcher in a Redbirds uniform. Jesse Haines (18 years, 1920-37) and Bob Gibson (17 years, 1959-75) are the only pitchers ahead of them.

“Adam represents everything we think of when asked to describe a winning player, and a winning teammate,” stated Cardinals’ Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. “His value to our team stretches far beyond the box score, and he showed by season’s end that he is still ready and able to compete.”

Wainwright will enter the 2019 season ranked 5th all-time among Cardinals in wins (148) and 2nd in strikeouts (1,623). The two-time World Series Champion (2006 & 2011) and three-time All-Star (2010, 2013, 2014) ranks 11th among active pitchers in win, 17th in strikeouts and 8th in ERA (3.32), despite missing significant time due to injury in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

“Adam has proven, when healthy, that he still has the ability and the drive to contribute at the highest level,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “We saw it in Spring Training, and again late in the season, that once he had overcome his ailments, he was prepared to give us a winning effort every time he took the mound. There is risk, but it is shared, and this deal gives us added depth as we look to 2019.”

Wainwright missed a total of 149 days while on the disabled list with hamstring and elbow injuries in 2018. He finished the year with a 2-4 mark and 4.46 ERA in eight games (all starts). Adam made four starts in September, striking out 25 in his 22.1 innings pitched while going 1-1 with a 4.84 ERA, as the Cardinals went 3-1 in those games. Despite making fewer September starts than his teammates, “Waino” finished third on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts last month.

A former Rawlings Gold Glove (2009 & 2013) and National League Silver Slugger (2017) award winner, Wainwright owns a career mark of 148-85 with a 3.32 ERA in 352 games (285 starts) covering 1,932.0 innings pitched. He is the Cardinals all-time leader in postseason games pitched (24) and strikeouts (96) and was on the mound for the Cardinals World Series and National League Championship Series clinching wins in 2006.

Brian Walton’s take

The re-signing of the future team Hall of Famer is not surprising to me, though the speed in announcing it is. In a time when the 40-man roster is tight, waiting until December would have given the Cardinals another spot to maneuver through the Rule 5 draft. However, it does not change that fact that ultimately, Wainwright uses one.

The financial terms have not been reported, other than the Post-Dispatch noting that Wainwright will receive incentives for both starting and relieving.

In the spring, one has to assume that Wainwright will be given the chance to start unless/until he demonstrates he should not. The unknown question is how short or long that rope will be.

As it is, Wainwright never officially reached free agency for what would have been his first time. Other impending Cardinals free agents are Matt Adams, Bud Norris and Tyson Ross. The chances for a 2019 return of Ross, who had the most potential overlap with Wainwright, seem to have diminished greatly with this announcement.

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