Adam Wainwright Rumors

Cards Notes: Wainwright, Miller, Descalso, Matheny

Hall of Fame and Cardinal icon Stan Musial passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Today, tributes are pouring in ranging from fans outside the Stan the Man statue at Busch Stadium (St. Louis Post-Dispatch video) to the White House (h/t MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch). Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com even suggests the Cardinals name the playing field at Busch Stadium in honor of Musial. The Cardinals are holding their 17th annual fanfest this weekend and, while the Musial official memorabilia booth was closed today in tribute to the St. Louis legend, players still made their appearances and made some news.

  • Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. says the club is prepared to increase payroll in the coming years, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold adds the 2013 payroll is around $115MM.
  • Adam Wainwright, who is entering the final year of his contract, admitted the Cardinals approached him about a contract extension during the final month of this past regular season, Goold reports. Wainwright said he wanted to focus on the playoff stretch and "it wasn’t going to hurt my case to just wait it out and see where some of these guys signed."
  • On the upcoming Wainwright extension talks, Goold, within the same piece, quoted GM John Mozeliak as saying, "It’s going to be long. It’s going to be expensive.
  • Wainwright has become a mentor to pitching prospect Shelby Miller, Goold writes in a separate article. Miller, who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, says he doesn't know what he was thinking last offseason when he "was trying to be a beach bod" with his workout regimen. Miller's performance suffered and the club questioned the right-hander's conditioning. Enter Wainwright who exchanged texts with Miller throughout the season and challenged him to reach training camp at a weight that would help his strength and durability. 
  • While Miller has gained enough pounds to reach his playing weight, Jake Westbrook's outlook on the offseason is to copy last year's regimen in hopes of slimming down, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. "It worked out so well last year that I thought I would just do it again," Westbrook said.
  • The injury reports on Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Rafael Furcal are positive, according to Langosch
  • Mozeliak says second base is Daniel Descalso's "job to lose," but he is open-minded about Matt Carpenter making a push for playing time there, writes Langosch
  • Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he only became the Cardinals' manager because of losses he sustained in a failed real estate venture. A Missouri judge recently ruled Matheny and his wife owe more than $4MM from that deal plus interest and court costs. Matheny will earn $750K in the final guaranteed year of his contract

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.


Wainwright Will Not Set Deadline For Extension Talks

Two years ago the Cardinals faced a Spring Training deadline during extension talks with Albert Pujols, but they won't face a similar deadline with their latest impending star free agent. Both GM John Mozeliak and Adam Wainwright confirmed a hard deadline will not be set for contract talks, report Joe Strauss of St. Louis Post-Dispatch and MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (Twitter links).

Wainwright, 31, told B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com (Twitter links) that the two sides engaged in contract talks last season and he was comfortable with the figures being discussed, saying he "liked where it was headed." The veteran right-hander pitched to a 3.94 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 198 2/3 innings last season after missing all of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright will earn $12MM next season and is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. He is represented by Aegis Sports Management. The four-year, $68MM extension Josh Beckett signed with the Red Sox early in the 2010 season could serve as a reference point in talks.


Quick Hits: Wainwright, LaRoche, Durbin, Orioles

The latest links from around MLB…

  • Agent Steve Hammond told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he expects to speak with Cardinals executives about the possibility of an extension for right-hander Adam Wainwright in Spring Training. Wainwright’s entering the final year of his contract with the Cardinals. Goold heard leading up to the Winter Meetings that the sides have not held “substantive” talks this offseason.
  • The Nationals made Adam LaRoche a two-year, $25MM contract offer, but they haven’t boosted their proposal, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reports. It’s possible the Rangers or Orioles could get involved in the bidding for the free agent first baseman. 
  • Free agent reliever Chad Durbin is on his way to California to meet with interested teams, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). Durbin, 35, posted a 3.10 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 61 innings for the Braves this past season.
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette will pursue free agent infielder Kelly Johnson. The Orioles have suggested they’re satisfied with internal second base options such as Brian Roberts, Alexi Casilla, Ryan Flaherty and Yamaico Navarro, but Dubroff suggests Johnson could be a “nice addition.”


Central Notes: Soriano, Pierzynski, Adams, Royals

Happy birthday to Cubs great Fergie Jenkins, who was born 70 years ago today in Chatham, Ontario.  The 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner won 167 games in 10 years with the Cubs and wore the red 'C' into the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1991.

Here are some items from Chicago and elsewhere around both the AL and NL Central divisions…

  • The Braves don't have any interest in trading for Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The Cubs are willing to pay $26MM of Soriano's remaining $36MM salary in a trade and have shopped the veteran to the Astros and Phillies this offseason.
  • The White Sox would like to bring back A.J. Pierzynski but only at the team's price, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago.  While the team has kept in touch with Pierzynski's agent, the Sox are prepared to go ahead with Tyler Flowers as their everyday catcher.
  • The Brewers can probably be counted out of the Mike Adams hunt, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) as the free agent reliever will likely be priced out of the Crew's range.  At least seven other teams besides Milwaukee are known to be interested in Adams.
  • Also from Haudricourt, he outlines how the Brewers have been historically unable to keep their major stars, a trend that may continue given the team's small local TV contract.  The one exception was Ryan Braun, who was already on an eight-year contract when he signed his major extension with the Crew.
  • We heard last month that the Royals were trying to trade Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that while the team will listen, they "feel no urgency" to move either pitcher.  The Royals want a lot of rotation depth and could just put either Chen or Hochevar in the bullpen, though K.C. could also wait until March to find better trade offers. (All links to Dutton's Twitter account.)
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that his team is pretty much done its winter shopping, though he hinted that the Reds could add a left-handed reliever.
  • As the cost of high-end pitching has risen, Adam Wainwright is in position to receive a huge payday as he enters the final year of his contract with the Cardinals, writes the Associated Press.  Both Wainwright and the Cards are open to the idea of discussing a new contract before Opening Day.
  • From earlier today, the Cubs and Tigers are the final two suitors for Anibal Sanchez.  The Cubs thought they had Sanchez signed to a five-year, $75MM offer, but Sanchez is giving the Tigers a final chance to match or top the offer.

Latest From The NL Central

A few NL Central free agent targets were identified today, as the Brewers and Cubs are in on Jason Grilli among other relievers, the Pirates have expressed interest in John Lannan, and the Cardinals are in the mix for Scott Hairston.  More from the division…

Earlier updates:


Cardinals, Wainwright Interested In Extension

Adam Wainwright would like to sign a contract extension with St. Louis this offseason and the Cardinals have expressed interest in working out a long-term deal, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. As the right-hander prepares for the final year on his current contract, he’s beginning to think about his next deal.

“In brief talks with [Cardinals executives] they feel real good about me coming back for a long time, and I want to make that happen,” Wainwright told Goold. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t make that happen.”

Wainwright returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.94 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 198 2/3 regular season innings in 2012. GM John Mozeliak approached the 31-year-old about contract talks in August, only to hear that he preferred not to discuss an extension during the season. 

Wainwright acknowledged that the Cardinals face a “business decision” regarding his future in St. Louis. Matt Cain (six years, $127.5MM) and Jake Peavy (two years, $29MM) are among the right-handed starters whose contracts provide a framework for Wainwright’s next deal. Within a few months, Zack Greinke and Kyle Lohse will have signed deals that will provide further context for talks. 

The contracts for Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook expire following the 2013 season, so it makes sense for the Cardinals to pursue a long-term deal with Wainwright. It doesn’t appear that Mozeliak will have to make substantive changes to the team this offseason, but retaining the right-hander figures to be a priority. Aegis Sports Management represents Wainwright.


No In-Season Contract Talks For Wainwright, Cards

Adam Wainwright has told the Cardinals that he’d prefer to wait until the season ends before discussing a possible contract extension, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Wainwright confirmed that GM John Mozeliak contacted him in the past two weeks to discuss a deal. However, the right-hander would prefer to focus on the season now and consider a new deal after the season.

"I don't want to do anything to create a distraction for me or the team," he told Strauss.

Wainwright, who turned 31 yesterday, missed the 2011 season to undergo and recover from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. The Aegis Sports Management client pitched to a 4.75 ERA for the first three months of the 2012 season but has since pitched as effectively as he did pre-surgery, posting a 2.08 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in ten outings since the beginning of July. Overall Wainwright has a 3.63 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 53% ground ball rate in 166 innings this year.

Wainwright's under contract for $12MM next year and he’s eligible for free agency following the 2013 season. The Cardinals recently extended Jake Westbrook, another member of their projected ‘13 rotation. Mozeliak has been particularly aggressive in signing players to late-season extensions, as MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker shows.


NL Central Notes: Wolf, Cardinals, Astros, Cubs

The Brewers released Randy Wolf on his birthday, but the left-hander says the organization “has been outstanding” and showed him lots of respect, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Wolf will go home to work out in Los Angeles and hope for another MLB opportunity to emerge. Here are some links from the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals’ offseason to-do list includes a potential contract extension for Adam Wainwright, left-handed relief and bench help, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes (on Twitter). Wainwright, who turns 31 in eight days, will earn $12MM in 2013, but he’s eligible for free agency after next year.
  • In case you missed it, the Cardinals agreed to a one-year extension with Jake Westbrook yesterday.
  • The Astros have not interviewed longtime MLB catcher Brad Ausmus for their managerial opening, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros replaced Brad Mills with Tony DeFrancesco on an interim basis this week.
  • The Cubs parted ways with six scouts today, ESPN.com’s Keith Law reports (on Twitter).

Quick Hits: Phillips, Kinsler, Podsednik, Moyer

Links for Thursday, as the first full day of the regular season wraps up…

  • The Reds and Rangers are working towards contract extensions with Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler, respectively, and ESPN's Jim Bowden says (on Twitter) there's some work left to be done on each. Phillips is expected to get $12.5-13MM annually, Kinsler $13.5-14MM.
  • Scott Podsednik will report to the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, his agent confirmed to David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News. Podsednik was not technically a Major League free agent this offseason since he spent all of last year in the minors, so he was unable to opt-out of his contract at the end of Spring Training.
  • Jamie Moyer's can make $2MM in incentives op top of his $1.1MM base salary, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). The 49-year-old left-hander will open the season in the Rockies’ rotation.
  • Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright took note when Matt Cain of the Giants signed earlier in the week, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. "Obviously, you have to pay attention to it,"Wainwright said. "It's a tremendous deal for him." Cain obtained $112.5MM in new money from the Giants, establishing a record for right-handed pitchers.
  • Ivan Rodriguez is working out and says he's in shape, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Heyman suggests the Rays could be a fit for the veteran free agent.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Smoltz Talks Returning NL Pitchers

It happens every spring. Pitchers nurse shoulders, backs and elbows to health in preparation for the season. But there are no guarantees for any injured pitcher, regardless of his resume. 

“You’ve got to know what your body can and can’t do,” John Smoltz told me in a recent interview. “Not every pitcher’s going to be perfectly healthy their whole career, so there has to be some degree of discomfort that you have to pitch through. Once you learn how to do that, you’re able to overcome more.”

Jair Jurrjens - Braves (PW)

Smoltz speaks from experience. He recovered from Tommy John surgery to reinvent himself as a dominant closer and worked through shoulder problems to strike out nearly a batter per inning as a 42-year-old. Now an analyst with MLB Network, he recently caught up with a number of high-profile pitchers returning from injuries for his role on MLB Tonight.  

When Smoltz signed with the 2009 Cardinals, Adam Wainwright was at his peak, in the midst of a season that would see him post a 2.63 ERA in a league-leading 233 innings. Two and a half years later, Wainwright’s returning from ligament replacement surgery and expectations are lofty. 

“That’s where Tommy John surgery is a little misunderstood,” Smoltz said. “Adam basically is looked upon this year I think unfairly as a big cog to replace the departure of Albert Pujols and now possibly the delay of Chris Carpenter. That’s an unfair situation for him to go in, since he needs the same kind of time and grace that everybody does returning from Tommy John.”

Regaining full strength following Tommy John surgery took more than a year for Smoltz, who missed the 2000 season recovering from the operation. But he acknowledges recovery times vary from pitcher to pitcher and anticipates a strong season from Wainwright. 

“Can he go back to the Cy Young type numbers? I don’t know,” Smoltz said. “I think it’s a little unfair [to expect that] the first year. But I certainly can see him doing easily some of the things that we’ve expected him to do in that first year.”

Smoltz believes Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson will rebound from a disappointing 2011 season. In fact, Johnson may have benefitted from his team's cautious approach late last season. He didn't pitch after May 16th last year, and Smoltz suggested the Marlins could have rushed him back under different circumstances.

“That’s a luxury," he said. "I expect that everything is where it needs to be and that he’s going to go out there and, unfortunately for the hitters, probably dominate.”

Smoltz last played for the Braves four years ago, but he spent two decades in Atlanta, so he knows the organization as well as anyone. He says former teammates Tim Hudson (back) and Jair Jurrjens (knee) must make most of their starts to have successful seasons. The Braves will be relying on their starters, since a repeat performance from their relievers may be unrealistic. 

“There’s no way the bullpen can do what they did last year with the amount of times they were used,” Smoltz said. “I think the starting pitching has got to find a way to pitch some much-needed innings over the course of the season.” 

A few months ago, the Braves seemed to have an abundance of starting pitching, and Mike Minor seemed expendable. Now that Julio Teheran has been sent to the minor leagues and Arodys Vizcaino is out for the season, Minor’s a key component of the Braves’ pitching staff. “Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make,” Smoltz noted. 

Mets fans who wish their team had never traded for Johan Santana might agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly. But there’s optimism that the Mets will see some return from the $24MM left-hander in 2012. Smoltz says the two-time Cy Young Award winner seems just as motivated as the 26-year-old Jurrjens. 

“They both have the urgency to want to pitch, but it’s different,” he said. “You’ve got a guy in Johan Santana with all of the hardware, big contract. He wants to get out there and compete. I’ve heard nothing but unbelievable things.”

Cy Young Awards are a motivator for pitchers coming back from injury, but contracts also lurk in the background. Even Smoltz, a future Hall of Famer, wasn’t able to generate interest based on his resume alone during his playing days. Successfully returning from an injury can make all the difference when it’s time for a new contract.

“In sports you’re as good as your last impression,” Smoltz says. 

For these pitchers, the 2012 season represents the opportunity to create new impressions and erase old ones. 

John Smoltz will be a game analyst for the MLB Network Showcase schedule this season beginning on Friday, April 20 featuring the Red Sox v. Yankees at 3pm ET. MLB Network will feature a package of live 30 games featuring all 30 Clubs beginning on Thursday, April 5 between the Dodgers & Padres. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.