St. Louis Cardinals running out of time to get Adam Wainwright deal done

Posted by Scott Wuerz on March 17, 2013 

With two weeks to go in spring training the Cardinals have failed to check off only one box on their to do list.

They've sorted out the bullpen, got their starting pitchers stretched out and concluded that both Pete Kozma and Matt Carpenter are ready to be everyday middle infielders and the club has taken a nice, hard look at Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong and Michael Wacha to assess where they need to be in the system and when they can be expected to arrive on the major league scene.

The one thing the Redbirds haven't done is inked Adam Wainwright to a long term contract.

There was talk that the club was waiting to see where Wainwright stood in his recovery from Tommy John surgery before it committed to an expansive deal with the ace. Wainwright has made four starts this spring and, especially after a tweak in his mechanics inspired by a fan, he's been very good.

Wainwright is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA while striking out 12 and walking two in 16 1/3 innings pitched.

I'm not sure what the front office needs to see to be satisfied. But I do know if Wainwright starts the season without a contract extension that he might as well see things through and hit the open market. If that happens, the Cardinals are going to have a lot more trouble keeping him.

Wainwright has indicated he wants to stay in St. Louis. And it seems like he is willing to be relatively reasonable. This isn't the Albert Pujols situation. Wainwright, at 32, isn't looking to set a record for the largest contract for a starting pitcher.

With his pitching elbow fixed, Wainwright has otherwise been very healthy over the course of his major league career.

The Cardinals should be content to pay Wainwright $100 million over five years, which is reportedly the sort of deal he seeks. First, that's nowhere near the going rate for a right handed ace. Zack Greinke got six years and $147 million from the Dodgers. that's basically one-third off the price for an ace hurler. While the scale of major league contracts is ridiculous, Wainwright would be a relative bargain.

The team has passed out wildly reckless contracts over the past several seasons to Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal with mixed results. But now they have a chance to lock up one of the most reliable pitchers in the game in his prime and the front office types can't decide if they want to pull the trigger.

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