Nearly a decade ago, the St. Louis Cardinals asked the Yankees about acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano. Those talks ended quickly when New York insisted that a deal include former ace Adam Wainwright.
That’s right, according to Derrick Goold Adam Wainwright was the necessary centerpiece in a likely package for Robinson Cano. At that point, the St. Louis Cardinals walked away from the deal and kept their pitcher.
While it would have been nice to have the production of Cano’s bat, having Waino has been much better for the organization. Even Wainwright himself is happy that the Cardinals did not make the move.
That still leaves the question of what could have been with Cano at second base.
If we assume that this potential deal was discussed prior to the 2008 season, Cano would have just finished his second year in the league. He played 282 games during that span, compiling a 7.1 fWAR.
Assuming that Cano still hits the free agent market after the the 2013 season, the St. Louis Cardinals still get a ton of value. His fWAR in 2008 was zero. After that year, he launched into a span where his fWAR dropped under five just once.
During that short stint, Cano brought home four Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, and was an All-Star in four straight years. He added a fifth straight appearance in 2014 with the Mariners. Simply put, Cano was a dominant player.
But what happens if the Cardinals bring Cano back? This is all theoretical, so it is possible.
Even in his suspension shortened 35 year old season in 2018, the eight time All-Star posted a 2.9 fWAR. However, that suspension for PEDs adds a giant question mark. It taints his entire career, or at least adds a huge question mark.
Taking everything into account, keeping Wainwright was the right choice in my mind. Even if there were no PED suspension. Prior to the 2008 season, Waino posted a combined 4.8 fWAR in his first three seasons. He would go on to lead the St. Louis Cardinals rotation for years to come, despite some critical injuries.
The real reason keeping Wainwright was the right move almost ten years ago is because he remained in St. Louis. It is hard to believe Cano would have stayed a Cardinal once he was eligible for free agency.
From that 2014 year on, the Cardinals got an extra 10.7 fWAR they would have missed out on had they decided to proceed. Not to mention, Waino was the start of a package. Who knows what else would have been asked for.
Cano is an excellent talent, but so was Wainwright. Redbird faithful should be eternally happy that the St. Louis Cardinals walked away from the table when the Yankees asked for Adam Wainwright.