Cardinals: Adam Wainwright will retire in 2021 or 2022

Adam Wainwright (50) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Wainwright (50) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has announced he will hang up his cleats after 2022 at the latest.

Every St. Louis Cardinals fan knew this day would arrive soon, but it still comes as somewhat of a shock: According to a KMOX article, pitcher Adam Wainwright said in an interview with The Athletic that he will be calling it a career after this year or 2022.

Wainwright, who will turn 40 in August, has experienced somewhat of a career rejuvenation in the past couple of seasons, but he has understandably decided to focus on his family. According to the KMOX article, Wainwright’s wife and five children all came down with COVID-19. Upon caring for his family, Wainwright realized how much work his wife has caring for the kids alone.

“I have this beautiful family,” said Wainwright in his interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “My family works better when I’m there. My household runs smoother when I’m there. My wife is less anxious when I’m there. I love my family. I love baseball. … If it’s not this year, it’s no more than next year. Just because of everything that goes on in our lives.”

But what Wainwright hasn’t addressed is the likely strike that will occur next year because of the expiration of the current MLB collective bargaining agreement. If there is no season next year, this is likely Wainwright’s final hurrah. He is also on a one-year contract and will be a free agent at the season’s end. With these two factors in play, I have my doubts that he will play beyond 2021.

If Wainwright goes, it’s possible that catcher Yadier Molina will decide to retire as well. The two have been rocketing up the record books in their number of games played together, and they have a very close relationship. However, Molina has been more indicative than Wainwright of his desire to continue playing. It would certainly be odd to see only one — or neither — of them on the roster.

I covered Wainwright’s Hall of Fame chances in a separate article, but his eligibility will be several years down the line. Wainwright has considered getting into broadcasting after his career is over, but with his family concerns, he might shelve that possibility.

It seems likely that Wainwright will retire as a Cardinal, which would make him one of the few modern players who spent his entire career with one team. One would hope that either Wainwright announces 2021 is his final year or that the Cardinals faithful realize the likely strike will put his potential 2022 season in jeopardy.

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With the Cardinals’ underwhelming performance so far this season, a Wainwright farewell tour could be the jolt the team needs and a way to keep the fans interested. If you’ve been skipping Cardinals games this season out of frustration, you might want to tune in again, because this is likely the last time we will watch a great competitor and an even better person play the game he loves.