While it is unlikely, there is a world where St. Louis Cardinals legends Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina have played their final games with the team. Are we prepared for this reality?
Easy answer, of course we aren’t prepared for this scenario. We have all known it has been coming for the last few years, but the longtime St. Louis Cardinals battery of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright is in its twilight and could end after 2020.
It’s a sad thought, but all good things come to an end.
In 2019, the two surged back, with Waino throwing 171.2 innings (his most since 2016) and a stellar 2.56 ERA at home. Molina maintained a .270 batting average as well as his ever-present leadership behind the plate. But for the two aging leaders (38 for Waino and 37 for Yadi), 2020 is their last season under contract.
Despite what will no doubt be the MLB’s best efforts, there is a world where no baseball is played in 2020. Labor agreements have been agreed on, and all players will receive a year of service time, even if no games are played this season.
Because of this, both Molina and Waino will come off the books after the season.
Despite reports that the Cardinals and Molina were trying to get a two-year extension done during spring training, nothing was agreed on before everything was canceled.
For Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals resigned the righty to an incentive-latent one-year deal before both 2019 and 2020, but nobody knows how long that one-year bandaid will continue to be applied.
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This spring, we got to enjoy at least a little bit of Molina and Wainwright. Yadi played in eight games, getting five hits and driving in five. Waino started just one game, pitching 2.2 innings giving up five earned runs.
Obviously, veterans like these two definitely shouldn’t be judged by their spring stats, but this could be what we have to remember them by.
Molina and Waino are part of a dying breed of MLB players: ones that stay with one team for the entirety of their career. Whether or not 2020 spring training was their last time playing in a Cardinals uniform, we won’t know.
It would be a sudden and almost tragic ending to two careers that will be remembered not only as two of the best on-field careers, but two of the best leaders, the best people the team has employed.
This can’t be how it ends for either one of these two.
One thing we do know, if they don’t get an offer for another contract by the team, they would both rather retire than wear any other uniform. That is the basis for why we all love them so much. Their humility and loyalty to the fans and the city of St. Louis is a shining example of what it means to be a leader. I would expect them to be back in some way if there’s no baseball in 2020, even if it’s just to give them both a proper send-off.