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Adam Wainwright Rumors
Three NL Central teams had winning records in 2012, but the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers won't get the chance to play the Astros regularly anymore. The Pirates narrowly missed a .500 record in 2012, and the Cubs' pitching staff looks much deeper following a busy offseason for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, so it now looks like the division will be tougher in 2013. Here are some NL Central notes, starting with the Cardinals’ top starter…
- The Cardinals will be able to afford an extension for Adam Wainwright if they truly want to retain the right-hander long-term, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With TV revenue on its way to St. Louis and a strong player development system in place, the Cardinals could likely afford Wainwright. They must now determine whether they value him at $20MM-plus per season for four or five years.
- The Cubs haven't shied away from veterans of Tommy John surgery, since pitchers like Arodys Vizcaino have considerable upside, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
- The Pirates took a similar approach to their division rivals, signing Jose Contreras to a minor league deal even though he's still recovering from the Tommy John operation that he underwent last June. GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates' scouts have always been impressed with Contreras, Tom Singer of MLB.com reports. "We felt this was a low-risk acquisition that can help this team at some point this summer," Huntington said. Contreras threw off a mound in front of Pirates personnel before completing his deal.
It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds. The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies. Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee. A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
- Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter). We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
- Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
- The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.
While both the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright have advertised a pause in contract talks, the lines of communication are open and conversations continue to occur between both parties, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The pitcher had said that talks were on hold as recently as last week.
While Albert Pujols' relationship with the Cards front office became strained during the negotiation process, things remain solid between the club and Wainwright. When asked if Wainwright’s talks had assumed an edge similar to Pujols’ in 2011, one party familiar with the process told Strauss, “Not even close. And I’d bet anything it won’t.”
The supposed break from talks allowed both sides to get out of giving daily progress reports to the press while also allowing the Cardinals to reevaluate their position. The Cards will either have to raise the average annual value of their offer or give in to Wainwright's request for a longer pact with a lower AAV. The 31-year-old, who has finished top three Cy Young Award balloting in two of his last three available seasons, is said to be seeking more than five years guaranteed.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio predicts Kyle Lohse will sign with either the Brewers or Rangers as one of five moves which will happen this spring (Insider subscription required). Bowden also sees extensions for Adam Wainwright and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Here's the other Senior Circuit news and notes from the first Sunday of Spring Training:
- Count the Phillies out as suitors for Lohse as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is prepared to go with the staff he has in camp, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Lohse will only become of interest to the Cardinals if their rotation candidates aren't panning out during Spring Training, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman in a piece outlining six reasons why the Redbirds remain playoff contenders.
- One reason for the Cardinals making the postseason in three of the last four years is being ranked as one of the NL's top four teams in terms of innings pitched by the starting rotation, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold notes this year’s rotation is set to include four starters, beyond Wainwright, who combined have just one 190-inning season.
- The Mets could use catcher John Buck as trade bait once they promote Travis d'Arnaud in the opinion of ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, who cites the precedent of when David Wright took over at third base.
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News cautions the Mets to be prudent with their newfound financial flexibility if they dive into next year's free agent outfield pool. Madden lists Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Hunter Pence (all ranked in the top ten of MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings) as possible targets.
Here's a look at players and a manager who aren't looking to rush into a contract extension just yet…
- Jeff Samardzija turned down a five-year contract extension from the Cubs this offseason as he hopes to continue prove himself as a pitcher before focusing on financials, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "We were talking, and we both have the same interest in mind,” Samardzija said. "We both want me to be here and both want me to be part of this team for a long time. When we feel like we’re on the same page with that, we’ll get it done." The 2012 season marked Samardzija's first season in the starting rotation as he pitched to the tune of a 3.81 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
- Adam Wainwright has put contract negotiations on hold after holding court with the Cardinals for the past week, but that doesn't mean talks can't resume in the future, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It doesn’t mean that it’s over," Wainwright said. "The door is still open. It just didn’t work out right now."
- Robin Ventura turned down a one-year contract extension from the White Sox this offseason as he wants to take managing one year at a time, writes Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com. The former third baseman, who guided his squad to 85 wins in his first season as a manager, is entering the second year of a three-year contract.
The Tigers are showing a lot of faith in 22-year-old Bruce Rondon by making him the frontrunner for the closer role, but Detroit would be better served by having legitimate closing options to choose from, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs in a piece for ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Developing your own closer rather than paying free agent prices for one is a good idea, but Cameron believes that the Tigers should probably have someone to hold down the fort while Rondon gains some big league experience. Here's more from the AL and NL Central..
- The Twins haven't completely ruled out free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but nothing is close to being imminent, writes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. So far this offseason, the Twins have appeared to be the only club with serious interest in the veteran.
- A Twins official told Wolfson that there isn't much to the news of 41-year-old free-agent pitcher Jose Contreras was working out at the Twins' Fort Myers facility. When asked if it was meaningful or random, the official simply said, "Random."
- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says that extension talks won't derail him during spring training as they did five years ago, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. General Manager John Mozeliak hopes to work out a new contract with Wainwright by Opening Day while Wainwright says that he isn't setting a deadline for talks.
- Edwin Jackson is considered an important piece in the Cubs' rebuilding process, both as an experienced starter under contract through the projected turnaround years and in the short-term as support for the rotation in the event of a likely Matt Garza trade this year, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Angels' Vernon Wells has been a trade candidate for quite some time but a source tells Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that it is now "very likely" that he will start the season with the Halos. Those odds have increased even more now that Delmon Young landed in Philadelphia. Here's more from around baseball..
- Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro told reporters that they plan to use Young as their starting right fielder, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Young, who may not be available to start the season as he recovers from ankle surgery, has not played the position in six years.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that he hopes to work out a new contract with Adam Wainwright by Opening Day, tweets ESPN.com's Jim Bowden. For his part, the pitcher says that he isn't setting a deadline for talks.
- The acquisition of Rafael Soriano caught Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard by surprise, but he isn't in a rut over not getting the chance to close in 2013, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
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.
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.
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.”