The Cardinals have made offers to re-sign both Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said during an interview as part of the Cards’ “Winter Warm-Up” event (done in virtual fashion this year). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides added details on these offers, noting that both Molina and Wainwright were offered less guaranteed money than they were supposed to earn in 2020, prior to the pandemic-induced prorated salary cuts.
This isn’t a surprise in Molina’s case, as his offensive downturn in recent years was naturally expected to result in a new salary worth substantially less than the $20MM average annual salary on his previous contract. Wainwright’s one-year deal for the 2020 season, however, paid him $5MM, and it certainly seemed plausible that Wainwright would top that more modest sum in his next deal.
Though Wainwright turned 39 last August, he has still looked like an effective big league arm, tossing 171 2/3 innings in 2019 and posting a 3.15 ERA over 65 2/3 frames in the shortened 2020 season. Overall, Wainwright has a 3.91 ERA, 20.6K%, and 12.7K-BB% over 237 1/3 innings since the start of the 2019 campaign.
MLBTR projected Wainwright for a one-year, $6MM pact, with the raise reflecting his solid work in helping carry the Cardinals’ rotation while the roster was ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak. If the Cards aren’t willing to hit even the $5MM threshold in guaranteed money, it could increase the chances of Wainwright pitching elsewhere in 2021, and changing teams for the first time in his career. The veteran told ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers that he had “recently” fielded offers from multiple teams, so it would appear as thought Wainwright has options if he indeed isn’t satisfied with what the Cardinals have put on the table.
Molina has also recently indicated that he could move on from both St. Louis, and even from his playing career altogether if he doesn’t find an acceptable offer. Molina has been known to be looking for a two-year deal, which could be difficult given his age (38), his aforementioned dropoff at the plate, and the fact that several teams looking for catching help this winter have made other acquisitions at the position.
Of course, there is still plenty of time for either or both of Molina and Wainwright to come to an agreement with the Cardinals. As Rogers notes, “industry executives” still feel that the two players will ultimately return to St. Louis, and both players have also repeatedly stated that their first choice is to play at least another season in Cardinal red.