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How much will it take for the Cardinals to keep Wainwright?

There are at least two other pitchers that had to wake up happy on Wednesday morning over the new six-year, $144 million offer that Cole Hamels has accepted from the Philadelphia Phillies. One is Zack Greinke of the Brewers, who becomes the top free agent target to hit the market this fall.

The other is St. Louis Cardinal Adam Wainwright. Though the 30-year-old (he turns 31 on August 30th) has another year-plus on his current contract, seeing the prices for pitching escalate across the game has to make him feel very good.

With Chris Carpenter’s distinguished career nearing its end, soon Wainwright will be the sole anchor of the Cardinals staff. As good as the prospects coming up through the minor league system are expected to be, the staff needs a leader.

There seems no doubt that Wainwright is the man. The only question is how much money it will take to retain his services. Specifically, will the Cardinals pay $20 million per season?

Let’s look at some recent extensions of pitchers’ contracts across MLB.

Pitcher Date Yrs Guarantee AAV Start yr Start age End yr End age NTC Career WAR Notes
Adam Wainwright TBD 2014 32 17.9
Zack Greinke TBD 2013 29 28.2
Cole Hamels 7/25/2012 6 $144MM $24MM 2013 29 2018 35 partial 25.7 7th yr vest to $162MM
Matt Cain 4/3/2012 6 $127.5MM $21.25MM 2012 27 2017 33 full 27.9 7th yr vest to $141MM
CC Sabathia 10/31/2011* 8 $191MM $23.875MM 2009 28 2016 35 full 50 9th yr opt to $211MM
Johan Santana 2/2/2008 6 $137.5MM $22.92MM 2008 29 2013 35 full 49.5 7th yr opt to $162.5MM

* date additional guaranteed year added to existing deal

Note that Wainwright will be 32 years of age in 2014, when his next contract would take effect. That is considerably older than the ages of the highest-paid pitchers in the game when they signed their big deals – all in their late 20s. Also note that none of the four $20 million pitchers will be under contract beyond age 36 (even with vesting options).

Further, refer to the career WAR column. Those totals are as of today, so the pitchers (other than Hamels) had lower WARs when their deals were done. Wainwright’s contribution is much less, though he has potentially a year and a third to pad his total before becoming eligible for free agency.

This might take Wainwright’s years and dollars down a bit, but may also increase his urgency to ensure he secures his last big contract this time around (vs. signing a short-term deal).

Being cognizant of the other contracts, a four-year guaranteed extension with a relatively easily attainable fifth-year option seems reasonable. That would cover his ages 32-36 years and the 2014-2018 seasons.

$20 million per year would seem to be the minimum, making the offer at least $100 million, $80-plus million guaranteed. No-trade protection (see NTC in table above) would likely be expected and granted.

What do you think?

How many guaranteed years would you offer Wainwright (starting in 2014)?

  • Four (45%, 141 Votes)
  • Three (27%, 84 Votes)
  • Five (19%, 60 Votes)
  • Two or less (6%, 19 Votes)
  • Six or more (3%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 313

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What AAV (average annual value) would be your top offer?

  • $19-20 million (36%, 83 Votes)
  • $17-18 million (35%, 81 Votes)
  • $21-22 million (14%, 32 Votes)
  • $16 million or less (12%, 27 Votes)
  • $23 million or more (3%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 231

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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27 Responses to “How much will it take for the Cardinals to keep Wainwright?”

  1. blingboy says:

    Yesterday I came across this article at fangraphs analyzing Wainy’s first half.

  2. crdswmn says:

    5/18 for Waino

    Cards have brought up Fuentes, sent down Marte, and DFA’d Chuckie Fick.

    I have no comment.

    • blingboy says:

      Hard to be a downgrade compared to Marte. I was in favor of him getting a chance after the nice job at Mamphis last year. He’s got nothing to comlain about.

      Maybe we’ll see Fuentes and Hanley square off. Has-been day at the ballpark.

      Now might be the time to extend Wainy while there is still some question about his future level of performance. If he mows them down all second half, which he might, . . . .gulp.
      The idea being that even if he turns out to be less than he was, so what. He’s a horse, an inspiration, a leader, and exemplifies Cardinal baseball.

  3. Bw52 says:

    No way in hell would i sign Wainwright for more than 2 years……………….and i would seriously consider letting him walk after 2013 .

    • blingboy says:

      I’m glad that everybody around here doesn’t feel the need to either jump on the bandwagon or keep quiet.

      A reasonable approach would be to wait a year, until this point in the 2013 season, and see where Wainy is and where the pitching situation is. Who knows what will look like the smart move then.

      As I said above, I’d be for taking a chance by going for an extension now. But its not my money. There are plenty of examples of big long term contracts that didn’t work out.

  4. blingboy says:

    Strauss chat tidbits:

    There is actually growing internal support for putting Taveras on the table as an option for Aug/Sept THIS season if the club continues to struggle offensively.

    Taveras is a raw talent but his bat projects now. Some question whether he is a fit for CF. It’s a legitimate concern. I don’t expect it to happen. But It’s received a hearing within the organization, something I wouldn’t have expected three weeks ago.

    Craig is not an adept fielder, an element often overlooked by those driven by a fantasy league mentality. Craig does rake.

    I believe Adams expendable.

    • blingboy says:

      To clarify, Strauss’s “I don’t expect it to happen” was referring to Taveras getting called up this year, not a comment on Taveras projecting as a CF. As to the latter, he only said its a legitimate concern.

  5. blingboy says:

    1. Rafael Furcal (S) SS
    2. Jon Jay (L) CF
    3. Matt Holliday (R) LF
    4. Carlos Beltran (S) RF
    5. Allen Craig (R) 1B
    6. Yadier Molina (R) C
    7. David Freese (R) 3B
    8. Skip Schumaker (L) 2B
    9. Kyle Lohse (R) P

  6. blingboy says:

    Our center fielder looks terrible at the plate and in the field. Deja vu all over again.

  7. blingboy says:

    Big Mac is definatly wearing the game jersey. Obviously, that is responsible for the uncharacteristic play we’ve seen lately. The baseball gods would have to look favorably upon such an awesome sight.

    Quite a pinch running clinic last night.

    Mo better hurry up and land a starter, we can’t take much more of this. ;-] But GMs are probably avoiding him out of fear they’ll end up with Tyler.

  8. blingboy says:

    Tyler has been part of the Cards org for a long time, and I’ve never heard any negative reports about how he interacts with staff or players. He’s just a lost cause when it comes to the show. It would be in keeping with how the Cards org does things to try to preserve his dignity in the process of getting him off the active roster. Like last year with Miller. Let someone else show him the door.

  9. crdswmn says:

    Radio interview with Mozeliak this morning: “When you look at this club right now, there’s not an area that’s screaming for help.”

    Preparing fans for no trade deadline moves?

    • Brian Walton says:

      It sure could be interpreted that way.

      • crdswmn says:

        I said a couple of days ago I didn’t think Mo was going to do anything but pick Fuentes up off the trash heap and then sit back and smoke a cigar like he accomplished something.

        • Brian Walton says:

          I am not anti-Mo. He has a pretty good track record of making solid moves that no one suspected. Better to wait until after the deadlines (waiver and non-waiver) before passing judgment.

          Having said that, it has happened. I think it was 2007 when they apparently decided the ship wasn’t worth saving and didn’t do anything of substance to improve the team mid-season.

          P.S. No, I don’t consider Fuentes to be of great substance in this context, though he would have been in 2007. 😉

    • blingboy says:

      No desperation moves, but I’m sure he will keep his eyes open for opportunity. Try to find Tyler a new home, for one thing. Come up with a better use for that roster spot.

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