The pieces are coming together for a reunion between the St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright, but what will the cost be for his services?
The questions to be answered next are: Which team does he pitch for, and how much will he be paid to do so?
The first question almost doesn’t need to be asked. A member of the St. Louis Cardinals his entire MLB career, Wainwright had a brief flirtation with his home-state team, the Atlanta Braves, last offseason, the same team that drafted him back in 2000.
However, he inked another deal with the Cardinals, and it would be absolutely shocking if he didn’t do likewise this winter (or sooner), especially since it’s been reported that they have plans to make him an offer.
So, again, how much will he cost, and will the contract be a simple one-year deal for a given dollar amount, or with their be options and incentives given Wainwright turned 40 years old recently?
A survey of Redbird Rants contributors, plus an AL GM speaking off the record to FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray, gave a wide range of responses.
That AL GM speculated that a $10-$12 million offer would get it done, but this total seems light considering Wainwright’s strong 2021 campaign, his overall body of work, and the recent extension Charlie Morton signed with those same Braves, guaranteeing him $20M next year with a 2023 option for the same amount.
Fellow contributor Dane Aerne-Moore speculated $12M-$15 million, and co-Ranter Taylor Streiff agreed with my initial guess of a $12 million base with incentives potentially bringing it up to $15M. Another contributor, Evan Mead, went with a flat $15 million base, eliminating the need for the ageless Wainwright to be further incentivized to perform.
Given how well Wainwright has performed this year on his $8 million deal, it would be far from shocking for the Cardinals to reward him with a new pact that in a sense compensates for how relatively little he’s earned in 2021 while being one of the top pitchers in the game.
Taking everything into consideration, I’m bumping my estimate up to $17.5 million on a single-season deal with no incentives. No, it’s not Morton money, but Morton theoretically could have marketed his services to a few other teams, while Wainwright is going to be a Cardinals lifer.
Will it be enough? I think so. Might it tick of Yadier Molina, who is getting just $10 million to come back next season? Maybe. But Wainwright has been stellar this year, while Molina has just been good.
Bring them both back, and let them ride off into the sunset together. I do wonder…is their a third amigo to be added to the 2022 Redbird retirement tour?