After spending his entire 14-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, many thought that the 2020 season might be Adam Wainwright’s last rodeo. But with the current situation stemming from COVID-19, he may not be done just yet.
One of the most surprising players on the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals was the roaring return of Adam Wainwright. After injuries cut short each of the previous two seasons, there were plenty of whispers going around wondering if his career was coming to an end.
Waino stunned everyone by throwing 171.2 innings with a 4.19 ERA. That’s not exactly vintage Wainwright, but when you look at just his numbers at Busch Stadium, you see a fantastic 16 starts with just a 2.56 ERA with the home crowd cheering him on.
Wainwright was the subject of discussion in Ken Rosenthal’s recent article for The Athletic. The article, which touched on Wainwright’s support of minor leaguers, charity work, and quarantine life, concluded with a question from Rosenthal asking about how the delay of the MLB season may affect Wainwright’s career plans moving forward, specifically with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"“To answer your question plainly, I’m not done yet”, Wainwright responds. “I’ve got more in the tank. That can change on any day, but I’m having way too much fun doing what I’m doing. My wife loves St. Louis. My family loves St. Louis. As long as the Cardinals will have me, I’d love to play again next year.”"
Back in November, Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a one-year deal worth $5million. The deal brought Wainwright back for a 15th season, but his role was a question mark. It was unclear whether he would remain in the starting rotation, or be used out of the bullpen, where he began his major league career.
Nonetheless, it was sounding more likely than not that the 2020 season would be Wainwright’s last.
The Cardinals have built up a group of good young pitchers, some of which we have already seen blossom at the big league level. Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, and Carlos Martinez have become common names on the great, well-rounded St. Louis pitching staff.
Those names don’t include the incumbent, either. Players like Miles Mikolas and Daniel Ponce de Leon are both under contract until at least 2024, so spots in the starting rotation will be hard to come by, and that starts as soon as this year.
There was a solid chance that we would see the major league debut for Zack Thompson, the Cardinals 5th ranked prospect according to MLB.com, at some point throughout this season, so St. Louis isn’t far off from having another talented young arm on the MLB roster.
It seems apparent that the front office is looking to build up one of the best pitching staffs for many years to come, so it raises the question as to whether or not the Cardinals would be willing to offer the 39-year old former All-Star another contract to keep him in St. Louis.
Now, would it surprise me if Mozeliak and company offer Wainwright a deal that benefits both sides to bring the beloved veteran back for another season? Not at all. In fact, similar to the situation involving Yadier Molina, if Wainwright is still interested in continuing his career past this season, I would say it is more likely than not that we would see Wainwright back in St. Louis in 2021.
It would be a shocker to most if both parties aren’t in support for a new contract past this year, but we have all seen crazier things when it comes to sports.