Adam Wainwright & Other Similarly Priced Players

The Cardinals will have the option of voiding Adam Wainwright's 2012 and 2013 options after the coming season, since he'll still be on the disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery. Though the two options, which are worth a combined $21MM, became guaranteed when Wainwright finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last fall, the Cardinals will have the choice of setting the right-hander loose on the free agent market because of a clause in his contract.

Barring unexpected setbacks, it appears likely that the Cardinals will exercise Wainwright's options. They'll want to bid on Albert Pujols and address other needs after the season, but you can't sign ace pitchers for $21MM. Here's a look at what teams have bought with $17-22MM, starting on January 1st, 2008:

The list includes some quality players, but they don't compare with Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in the league. The right-hander averaged 232 innings, 212 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA from 2009-10 and is still just 29. Considering what $21MM or so buys on the free agent market, it's hard to imagine St. Louis obtaining anything more valuable than Wainwright's age-30 and 31 seasons for that sum.

Contract info courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

18 Responses to Adam Wainwright & Other Similarly Priced Players Leave a Reply

  1. trade him?

    • Why would the Cardinals trade him?

      • shysox 4 years ago

        jake peavy-esque maybe.

        • Ferrariman 4 years ago

          jake peavy had a huge contract while playing for a small market. Wainwright has a very team friendly contract while playing for a med-large market. Cards have never actually traded away elite players either unless they were no longer useful (edmonds) or Tony had a problem with them (Rolen). Actually, i can’t remember a single year with TLR at manager that the team (for better or for worse) was actually sellers.

  2. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    you can’t pass on wainwright, even if he comes back at 80% of his former self, at that price just to have a shot at offering that money to pujols. tommy john has a pretty good success rate now, and wasting talent like that is absurd.

  3. post-TJ Wainwright > all these players. Easy decision for STL. Reasons why they don’t pick up the options (other than the potential for setbacks later this year)?

  4. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    He won’t be ready to pitch at the beginning of 2011 … They should try to work out an extension.. Otherwise if he leaves after making 10-15 starts next year, that’s money not well spent

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      This is of course idiotic, I Thot it was a 1 year option.. The 2013 option makes it a no brained

    • Ferrariman 4 years ago

      cards medical staff said he should be available for part of 2012 spring training. Might be a bit optimistic but thats what the said.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        It doesn’t sound overly optimistic, but how effective he will be at first is usually the concern for pitchers returning from tj surgery..

  5. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    No brained….

    Disqus is making this a lot more painful than it needs to be

  6. The_BiRDS 4 years ago

    This article is a waste of time.

    • twenty1thirteen 4 years ago

      Agreed. Does anyone else miss how this site was 4-5 years ago? It’s nice to have so many updates, but some of them are just head scratchers.

  7. Also in 2008 for about 21 million:

    Evan Longoria for 6 years and $17.5 million.

    I know it wasn’t a free agent signing and that it wouldn’t have fit in with the article, but just felt a random need to bring it up.

  8. bjsguess 4 years ago

    Everyone knows that a ***healthy*** Wainwright is a no brainer for the contract pick-up. The risk here is his recovery from injury. The players cited above were HEALTHY. Sure, they were lesser players – no question. But being healthy is a major factor in their contracts. If Adam Dunn was coming off major surgery after missing an entire year there is NO way that he sniffs at 2/$20m.

    There are plenty of great pitchers who have struggled post TJ. Liriano is the most recent example. Amazing in 2006. TJ surgery after the 2006 season. Missed all of 2007. Was demoted to the minors in 2008. Posted an ERA of nearly 6 over a full season in 2009.

    Coming off an All-Star season, stud Jose Rijo underwent TJ. He didn’t play for another 5 years. The 7 previous seasons he had posted a 2.63 ERA (147 ERA+) … and averaged 190 innings. He was 30 when he had the surgery.

    I know that the recent stats indicate that 85% of those that undergo the surgery are able to return to baseball. However, when you look at the individual cases it is worth noting that:

    1. Players often miss more time than the expected 1 year rehab. Along the same lines, pitchers are more prone to additional stays on the DL after they make it back.

    2. Performance is rarely on par in year 1. Usually the pitcher regresses significantly as they struggle with control. On very successful surgeries, year 2 tends to look a lot better.

    I would write off 2013 – Wainwright may come back and be a stud but you can’t count on that. If he gives you 150 innings with a 4.50 ERA that would be pretty reasonable. What would that cost on the open market? Maybe $5m?

    In 2014 you could hope for 200 innings of 3.50 ERA. Not quite as good as he has been but still solid. That’s probably good for 4-5 WAR. Somewhere between $20-$25m in value.

    For me, I put a “reasonable” best case scenario at close to $30m for the 2 option years. A conservative estimate would be in the $20m range (right where his option is). Of course, he could be worth next to nothing if he proves to be one of those guys who falls in the unsuccessful 15% category.

    It’s a risk for the Cards to pick it up. I think they should do it, but I don’t see this as a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.

  9. whatsacominago 4 years ago

    Every story I’ve read about this assumes Wainwright is a free agent if the Cardinals don’t pick up his options. However, he won’t accrue service time all season long while he’s on the 60-day DL and will still have five years of service time next winter. As far as I know, five years of service time means arbitration eligible, not free agent.

    • nictonjr 4 years ago

      He does accrue service time on the 60 man DL. Jaime Garcia accrued 1 year service time while he was on the DL two seasons ago. He’ll be arb eligible after 2011.

      If the Cards don’t want to pick up Wainwright’s 2 options I’d gues there would be a couple teams willing to give him $21 mil over 2 years. Oakland gave Sheets $10 mil last year…

  10. iheartyourfart 4 years ago

    “three years of Casey Blake” sounds like a horror movie title

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