Adam Wainwright Rumors

NL Central Notes: Wainwright, Holliday, Pirates, Leake

Adam Wainwright returned to the mound today and threw a 30- to 40-pitch bullpen session without issue, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright gave Cardinals fans a bit of a scare last week when he had to return to St. Louis to see a specialist for pain in his abdomen, but he was diagnosed with a strain and merely prescribed some rest. Manager Mike Matheny said his ace will first have to face hitters in a live batting practice session before getting into a game, but he didn’t give reporters a timeline on that next step.

More from the NL Central…

  • Matt Holliday said to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports today that he hopes the Cardinals will eventually pick up his 2017 option (Twitter link). Holliday says he’s not concerned with the financial component of the $17MM option, but rather that he likes playing in St. Louis and hopes to remain as long as he can. In reply, Goold tweeted to Heyman that team president Bill DeWitt Jr. has told the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz that the current intention is indeed to exercise the option. Of course, plenty could change that line of thinking over the next two seasons, especially considering the fact that Holliday is already 35.
  • Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review opines that new addition Jung-ho Kang is more likely to eventually cut into the playing time of Jordy Mercer or Josh Harrison than Neil Walker in the short-term. He also tackles recent reports that the Pirates are open to an extension with Andrew McCutchen at a premium price, wondering if such a move would be wise for the Bucs four years in advance of the end of a contract that already runs through McCutchen’s age-31 season. As Sawchik notes, paying for a player’s decline phase rarely proves to be a sound decision for any team, and the team could have younger assets like Gerrit Cole or Gregory Polanco on which to use that hefty sum as they enter their arbitration years.
  • Mike Leake tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s happy to have survived the Reds‘ offseason with the team, as he and fellow right-handers Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon entered the offseason fully aware that they could be traded. (Latos and Simon, of course, were indeed traded.) Leake hasn’t been approached by the Reds about an extension yet and isn’t expecting them to do so, although he’d like to see them at least try to work out a long-term deal. The 27-year-old former No. 8 overall pick can become a free agent at season’s end and has enjoyed a pair of productive seasons in 2013-14, posting a 3.54 ERA in 406 2/3 innings.

NL Central Notes: Wainwright, Manny, Maddon, Pirates

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has left the team’s Spring Training complex in Florida and will head to St. Louis after experiencing abdominal pain, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright will see a specialist in St. Louis to diagnose the source of the injury. GM John Mozeliak said it would be incorrect to label the injury a sports hernia at this time. Wainwright said that he’s been feeling better each day, but seeing a specialist will give the team some further clarity.

  • The Cubs announced today that they have hired Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant. Ramirez, who spent the 2014 season as a player-coach with Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, will work with the Cubs’ Major League and Minor League players on the fundamental and mental aspects of hitting, according to a press release from the team.
  • Via ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that the investigation into the Cubs‘ alleged tampering regarding their hiring of Joe Maddon will be resolved by Opening Day (Twitter link). The Cubs agreed to bring Maddon on as their new manager on a five-year deal just 10 days after he opted out of his contract with the Rays.
  • Corey Hart had other offers in free agency but welcomed the opportunity to return to the familiar setting of the NL Central when the Pirates made a one-year offer, he tells Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hart admits that he also rushed back to action too quickly in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 season due to surgery on both of his knees. The fact that Pirates have morphed into one of the National League’s best teams over the past few seasons also played a role in his decision to select Pittsburgh’s offer.
  • The Pirates are drawing some influence from the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in determining how much to rest their stars this offseason, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Manager Clint Hurdle said that an interesting article on how much the Warriors are resting their best players and how the on-court production has improved as a result Seeing the analysis was no accident, however, as GM Neal Huntington tells Stark that the Pirates are constantly studying successful teams in other sports to see if any trends or philosophies can carry over to baseball.

Miguel Cabrera, Adam Wainwright Undergo Surgery

Two of the game’s biggest stars, Miguel Cabrera and Adam Wainwright, underwent surgery today, according to reports from MLB.com’s Jason Beck and Will Carroll of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Cabrera’s operation isn’t entirely surprising, but doctors also discovered a stress fracture in the navicular bone near the top of his right foot, Beck writes. That injury requires a longer rehab process and required screws to be inserted into Cabrera’s foot, according to Beck.

Cabrera will be re-evaluated in three months’ time, and GM Dave Dombrowski said the former AL MVP will be “pretty much inactive” until that point. Dombrowski wouldn’t comment on whether or not Cabrera would be ready for Spring Training, but it seems possible that he’ll be getting a late start to his 2015 campaign at this point. Dombrowski said the team would provide further updates once Cabrera is re-evaluted in January, but missing an offseason of workouts does bring his status for Opening Day in 2015 into question. Needless to say, the onset of injuries is troubling for both Tigers fans and the team itself, as Cabrera is owed an enormous sum of $240MM through the 2024 season.

Shifting to Wainwright, the team has since confirmed the news, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided further details. Wainwright had some cartilage “trimmed” in the back of his elbow in order to avoid irritation in that area, an official tells Goold. The Cardinals have said Wainwright will resume a throwing program in eight weeks, and the surgery is not expected to impact his 2015 season, Goold writes.

Clearly, the eight-week timeframe for Wainwright is less troubling than Cabrera’s outlook, although it doesn’t leave a large amount of room for setbacks. That schedule would allow Wainwright to resume throwing in mid-to-late December. The right-hander is owed $78MM over the remaining four years of his five-year, $97.5MM contract.



NL Central Notes: Choate, Wainwright, Guerrero, Taillon

As the Cardinals battle to represent the National League Central in the World Series, let's have a look at St. Louis and the two other post-season qualifying members of the division.

  • Left-handed reliever Randy Choate had his pick of the Cardinals and the Dodgers over this past off-season, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His manager, Mike Matheny, credits him not only for his performance on the hill but for mentoring the many excellent young arms that have cycled through the team's bullpen this year.
  • Starting for the Cards this evening was Adam Wainwright, who has been as important as any player to the team's recent successes. As MLB.com's Steve Gilbert writes, the deal that brought him to St. Louis about a decade ago could not have turned out any better for team or player.
  • Walt Jocketty, the GM who pulled the trigger on that trade, is currently at the helm of the rival Reds. Jocketty tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he is unlikely to bring aboard Cuban middle infielder Alexander Guerrero, who the club was rumored to be in on. "We scouted him extensively and had a lot of discussions," said Jocketty. "But I don't believe anything will happen."
  • Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon has been shut down after suffering a groin injury in his first outing in the Arizona Fall League, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The injury itself doesn't seem to be significant, however, and it seems unlikely to have a significant impact on the club's plans for 2014. With Taillon now unable to add additional innings to his arm, he will have a base of less than 150 to work from next season. Of course, that is about the level that Gerrit Cole had to build off of this year. Taillon also will miss the chance to develop against AFL talent, but he has already advanced to the upper minors and should get more time there to start the season.

Quick Hits: Wainwright, D’Backs, Hultzen, Royals

The Cardinals rolled to a 9-1 win over the Pirates in Game One of their NLDS series today, as A.J. Burnett allowed seven runs in just two innings while Adam Wainwright allowed a run on three hits over seven innings.  Pittsburgh has had to deal with Wainwright as a division rival for years yet MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter) points out that Wainwright could've been a Pirate 13 years ago.  The Bucs were preparing to take Wainwright as an outfielder in the second round (with the 59th overall pick) of the 2000 draft, but the Braves took Wainwright 29th overall and the rest is history.

Here are some more news items as we look ahead to Friday's ALDS series openers…

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said his team will look for a left-handed bat this offseason, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports, and that next hitter will likely come in a trade.  "We're going to look at free agents, but I think this is one of the weaker free-agent markets I've seen in some time, so that might lead us toward looking at trade partners more," Towers said.
  • Mariners southpaw Danny Hultzen underwent left shoulder labrum and rotator-cuff surgery on Tuesday and could miss the entire 2014 season while recovering, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports.  MLB.com ranked Hultzen as the 18th-best prospect in the sport in the site's preseason rankings, while Baseball America (#29) and ESPN's Keith Law (#66) also thought highly of the 23-year-old lefty.  Hultzen was the second overall pick of the 2011 draft and was quickly moving up the Seattle farm system, posting a 2.05 ERA, 4.86 K/BB and 10.0 K/9 in six Triple-A starts last season.
  • Some of the flaws of the new collective bargaining agreement can be seen in the case of the Royals, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) argues, as small-market teams who finish just shy of the postseason are somewhat "punished" by the system.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News looks at which players in the postseason could be targets for the Yankees or Mets in free agency or the trade market this winter.  Some players could fit on either club, such as Ricky Nolasco.  Martino says the Mets "tossed around" Nolasco's name when discussing a Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Marlins last spring.

Adam Wainwright Extension Reactions

Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has officially signed a five-year, $97.5MM extension that includes a no-trade clause, preventing him from hitting the free agent market next offseason. Here's a roundup of reactions from around the internet.

  • Wainwright's contract is an example of "sticker shock" in MLB salaries, Jonah Keri at Grantland writes. Keri points out that the average annual value of Wainwright's contract is comparable to those of Matt Cain and Jered Weaver, but Cain and Weaver are younger and didn't recently miss a year due to Tommy John surgery, as Wainwright did in 2011. But that doesn't necessarily make it a bad deal, Keri says, because of changing economic circumstances throughout the game.
  • The Cardinals "paid a premium" for Wainwright, writes Steven Goldman of SB Nation. Goldman points to Wainwright's lower velocity last year as cause for concern. "Wainwright and the Cardinals are both looking for security in this deal, but if that's the case only one party to the deal will be sleeping well at night," says Goldman.
  • If Wainwright had been allowed to leave via free agency after the 2013 season, the Cardinals would have missed his leadership, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues. "With Chris Carpenter's career ruined by chronic pitching-health issues, and Jaime Garcia not possessing the hard-wiring to be a leader type, the Cardinals faced a potential void at the top," says Miklasz. "If Wainwright had left as a free agent after the 2013 season, who would guide the young pitchers?"
  • At the press conference to announce his signing, Wainwright himself had kind words for the city of St. Louis, the Associated Press reports. "I feel like my heart is in St. Louis," said Wainwright.

Cardinals Extend Adam Wainwright

The projected number one free agent starter for next offseason is off the market.  The Cardinals officially signed righty Adam Wainwright to a five-year, $97.5MM extension that covers the 2014-2018 seasons and includes a no-trade clause.  Wainwright, 31, is represented by Steve Hammond of Aegis Sports Management. He was set to enter free agency next year as the top pitcher available on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.  "I can't wait to make you proud of this contract," Wainwright told Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. during his press conference today, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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The Cards were reportedly working on an extension with their All-Star hurler at various points throughout the spring, with both team and player reportedly preferring to leave Florida with a new deal in place.  Wainwright's new deal falls short of the six-year, $127.5MM extension signed by Matt Cain with the Giants a year ago as well as Zack Greinke's six-year, $147MM deal with the Dodgers achieved in free agency.  Aside from the shorter term, Wainwright's average annual value of $19.5MM is short of Cain ($21.25MM) and Greinke ($24.5MM).  One potential reason for the difference in the extended pitchers: Wainwright's extension begins with his age 31 season, while Cain's began with his age 27 campaign.  It should be noted that with Cain's deal, it was actually five years and $112.5MM in new money, since he was already under contract for 2012.  Greinke's contract, of course, was signed after open bidding.

Wainwright notched a 3.94 ERA, including 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9, over 198 2/3 innings with the Cards in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.  He posted a 3.51 ERA from May 6th onward.  As Rosenthal notes in his full article discussing the extension, Wainwright has pitched to a career 3.15 ERA in the majors.  He began his big league career as a successful reliever in '06.  In March 2008, Wainwright inked a four-year, $15MM extension with the Cardinals, and the team chose to exercise a dual club option covering the 2012 and '13 seasons.    

With the contracts of Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook set to expire after this season, Wainwright will be the elder statesman of the rotation.  He's signed through 2018, and Jaime Garcia potentially through 2017.  Lance Lynn is under team control through 2017, and promising youngsters such as Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal through 2018.  Well-regarded prospects Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha are also waiting in the wings.

As Dierkes' power rankings reflect, Josh Johnson is now the projected top free agent starter after this season, followed by Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Garza.  There's a lot of uncertainty in that bunch.   

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first broke the story.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.  Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Latest On Adam Wainwright

The Cardinals and ace Adam Wainwright are still working towards reaching agreement on a contract extension as spring training comes to a close.  Sources familiar with both sides of the conversation expressed a sense of optimism to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a deal will be struck before Opening Day.

The two sides took a break from extension talks earlier in the offseason when Wainwright was seeking more years than the Cards were willing to offer.  However, they have come back to the table in recent weeks and reports have generally been positive regarding the discussions.  

An extension for the 31-year-old figures to be the most lucrative one ever given to a pitcher by the Cardinals.  Deals given to right-handed starters Matt Cain (six years, $127.5MM) and Zack Greinke (six years, $147MM) could provide a framework for a deal.

Wainwright posted a 3.94 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 198 2/3 innings last season after returning from Tommy John surgery.


NL Central Notes: Figgins, Cedeno, Wainwright, Bucs

Some news from around the NL Central…

  • The Cubs haven't been in contact with Chone Figgins, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports.  Figgins was released by the Marlins earlier this week and, as Rogers notes, is one of the few veteran options available if the Cubs want to bring in a third baseman.
  • Ronny Cedeno has cleared waivers after being released by the Cardinals three days ago, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter).
  • Chris Cwik of CBSSports.com analyzes the cost of an Adam Wainwright extension with the Cardinals and figures Wainwright will end up being paid between $21-$23.5MM per season.  Talks are ongoing between Wainwright and the Cards and the ace right-hander feels positive that an extension will be settled before Opening Day.  Wainwright is eligible for free agency after this season.
  • Jonathan Sanchez can opt out of his minor league deal with the Pirates on Sunday if he hasn't been added to the club's Major League roster, but the Bucs have until Tuesday to respond, MLB.com's Tom Singer reports.  Sanchez's one-year contract will guarantee him $1.375MM if he makes the roster.
  • Also from Singer, he opines that the Pirates' trade for John McDonald is the kind of veteran acquisition a team makes when it believes it will contend.  Otherwise, Singer wonders why Pittsburgh would add McDonald to an already-deep middle infield mix.

Quick Hits: Padres, Wainwright, Posey, Theriot

Cubs starting pitcher and extension candidate Jeff Samardzija struggled on the hill at times tonight, but showed a new way to add value by launching his second long ball of the spring and adding another base hit (along with a sacrifice bunt). Indeed, Samardzija's work on offense was so impressive that he was allowed to take his final plate appearance before being lifted for a reliever in the bottom of the inning. Elsewhere in the National League …

  • With the first four spots in the Padres rotation all but locked down by Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis, and Eric Stults, the club could be eyeing outside options for starter number five, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. Brock notes that in-house options include Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Tim Stauffer, and Freddy Garcia. San Diego was also recently linked to the Tigers' Rick Porcello. GM Josh Byrnes was not shy in acknowledging his interest: "Our scouts are out there, and we're talking to a few clubs." 
  • Extension discussions between the Cardinals and starter Adam Wainwright still appear to be moving in a positive direction, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Said Wainwright: "I think both sides feel confident something could get done." We learned earlier today that talks were progressing.  
  • An extension agreement between the Giants and star catcher Buster Posey could take many forms, which serves to complicate negotiations, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants and Posey will likely discuss "a three-year deal that buys out arbitration, a different mid-range deal that cuts into free agency and the so-called 'megadeal' that locks Posey into San Francisco for a decade."
  • Infielder Ryan Theriot remains unsigned after playing last year with the world-champion Giants, and San Francisco GM Brian Sabean says that the club has "lost contact" with the 33-year-old, reports Schulman. Theriot remains interested in playing, but so far has not received an offer that is "exactly what I'm looking for playing-time-wise." If the right opportunity does not come along, the easy-going Theriot seems to be at peace with moving on from the game to spend time with his young family.