The St. Louis Cardinals are making it clear: they want Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright to return in 2021.
It is little surprise that the Cardinals want to re-sign Wainwright. After all, he has been in St. Louis for 15 years and is considered by the franchise to be a “legacy player.” And with the team’s pressing need for another starting pitcher, keeping him would be a wise short-term move as the Cardinals look for long-term answers in the rotation.
While Molina is seeking a two-year deal in free agency, it is far more likely that Wainwright will sign a one-year deal. The price to sign him, however, could be in the $10 million range and could be tight for a Cardinals team whose owner recently claimed that baseball is not a “profitable industry.”
But considering the alternative options in free agency, Wainwright makes the most sense. Trevor Bauer will be far out of their price range. Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka will land multi-year deals and figure to be too expensive. The trade market features Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and Danny Duffy, but the asking prices for Snell and Musgrove are said to be extremely high. And Duffy comes with an expensive contract, meaning it will be tough for the Cardinals to add him unless they are willing to part with an expensive contract (Carlos Martinez?) in the trade.
While Wainwright may not be the most attractive option, especially at age 39, the Cardinals could do a lot worse. He is a known commodity and with the team looking to compete in 2021, he has pitched in big games during his career and would provide stability to the rotation.
And if the Cardinals get what they would like, he would return to St. Louis for a 16th season.