Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Jon Heyman of SI.com that he "hasn't thought about" whether he'll exercise the reasonable $21MM option for Adam Wainwright’s 2012 and 2013 seasons. The words are jarring at first, since fans are wondering about the option and Wainwright is, too. And while Mozeliak is almost certainly exaggerating when he says he hasn’t thought about the decision, thinking and talking about the option doesn’t help the Cardinals much at this point.
If the Cardinals say they intend to exercise the option and something unexpected happens, like Wainwright suffers a setback, then the front office would find itself in an awkward position. They can avoid P.R. nightmares and maintain maximum flexibility by remaining mute on the issue until the last possible moment.
The Cardinals took a similar approach last year, when they waited until after the regular season before exercising Albert Pujols’ 2011 option. Everyone knew that Pujols wasn’t hitting the open market, but St. Louis was able to minimize risk by delaying the announcement until after the season.
Though Cardinals starters Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia are living proof that recovering from Tommy John surgery is realistic, it’s not safe to assume anything when it comes to serious elbow injuries. At this point, the Cardinals are in wait and see mode like the rest of us, hoping that Wainwright’s rehab doesn’t go awry. They’ve clearly “thought about” Wainwright’s option, but it’s conceivable that they won’t do much more than that until considerably closer to the end of the season.