The St. Louis Cardinals don’t do hometown discounts
By Greg Simons
Adam Wainwright’s past contracts
With Wainwright, we’ll start with his 2014-2018 deal, his first following a pre-free agency contract with multiple team options. Following two of four seasons in which Waino finished in the top three in Cy Young Award voting – though that period also included a 2011 season lost to Tommy John surgery – and heading into a year in which he again would come in second in Cy Young voting, St. Louis signed him to a five-year, $97.5M contract, paying Wainwright an equal $19.5M per season.
While those 2013 and ’14 campaigns were a continuation of his tremendous success, Achilles tendon surgery wiped out most of his 2015 season. A mixture of mediocrity and missed time summed up much of the next few years, to the point that the Cardinals and Wainwright agreed to an incentive-laden pact for 2019. The base amount was only $2M, though achieving games-started incentives boosted the total payout to $10M.
Waino’s 31 starts in 2019 gave St. Louis the confidence to boost his base salary to $5M for 2020, with similar games-started incentives built in. While 2020 was a weird year for everyone, Wainwright excelled, starting 10 games, completing two of them, and compiling a 3.15 ERA despite it being his age-38 campaign.
The seemingly ageless Waino inked another one-season deal for 2021, this time at a base of $8M. The 39-year-old hurler was simply great, throwing 206-1/3 innings with a 3.05 ERA, 17-7 record, and three complete games, including a shutout – something rarely seen these days.
That excellent performance earned Wainwright what might (or might not) be his last big payout. He signed last October to return yet again to the Redbirds, this time for $17.5M for one season, an amount that reflects his performance, recent strong health, and age.