Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday morning confirmed a five-year contract extension that will keep Wainwright in St. Louis through the 2018 season.
The deal is worth $97.5 million and prevents Wainwright from becoming a free agent at the end of this season.
Wainwright was emotional as he spoke to the media, teammates and family members at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., where the Cardinals are wrapping up spring training in preparation for their season opener Monday in Arizona.
Wainwright, who will start the game Monday, twice hugged Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., and also embraced General Manager John Mozeliak.
"I'm a hugger. Sorry," said the 31-year-old Wainwright, who was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA in 32 starts last season. "I'm going to try to get through this without crying like a baby, but it may be tough."
Indeed, Wainwright broke down three times during the press conference. Near the end of his comments, Wainwright had two of his three young daughters stand with him at the podium.
The Cardinals and Wainwright both were hopeful a deal could be struck before the season. Talks intensified in the last week before the sides unofficially came to terms Wednesday.
"Really, I just always hoped this would happen," Wainwright said. "This is a tough thing, negotiating a deal like this. I feel like my representatives and Steve (Hammond), not just as my agent, but as a great friend and spiritual mentor, have helped me so much."
The Atlanta Braves drafted Wainwright in the first round in 2000, selecting him with the 29th overall pick. The Cardinals acquired him from the Braves on Dec. 13, 2003, with pitchers Ray King and Jason Marquis for outfielder J.D. Drew and catcher/outfielder Eli Marrero.
"When I think about today and what it really means for the St. Louis Cardinals, and specifically Adam Wainwright, this really embraces everything that we've been trying to accomplish over the last few years in terms of the culture and what we're trying to build," Mozeliak said.
"When you think about having players come up through your minor leagues and contribute to the major-league level, Adam's really embodied that. I realize we got him in a trade; I realize he came from another organization, but he bought into everything this organization stands for."
That's what made Mozeliak confident that the extension would be good for the Cardinals and, obviously, Wainwright.
"To be able to reward him for his excellence ... It's really been a privilege to work with him and get to know him," Mozeliak said. "Our expectations for him are very high, as they are for himself. I know moving forward, he's going to represent this organization with tremendous pride."
DeWitt Jr. said Wainwright "represents everything the Cardinals look for in a player."
"He's an elite pitcher with a tremendous work ethic, a great teammate and leader and a winning, championship-caliber player," DeWitt said. "He has the highest personal qualities and personifies the Cardinals' tradition of excellence."
Wainwright, a Georgia native, wasn't sure how his career would unfold the day he was traded by the Braves.
"I came over here and from the first day, with (former pitching coach) Dave Duncan's philosophy, it really revolutionzed my pitching career and changed me as a man and as a competitor," Wainwright said. "And (former manager) Tony (La Russa) taught me the importance of showing up each day with a relentless attitude. (Former bullpen coach) Marty Mason taught me the importance of getting strike one and having belief in your stuff.
"That's translated on now that I have this great man in Mike Matheny as my manager and a pitching coach in Derek Lilliquist. These are all big reasons why I'm here today."
Wainwright credited injured teammate Chris Carpenter for the improvements he has made on the mound, and also expressed his appreciation for catcher Yadier Molina.
"This would be empty if I didn't thank Carp for what he's done, teaching me the mentality of a pro and (about) professionalism and tenacity. Thanks, Carp," Wainwright said. "My catcher, Yadi, is the best in the game.
"Other guys have had a great impact on me --Jason Marquis and Braden Looper, Jason Isringhausen ... I love all those guys and appreciate them. And my training staff. When I was out in 2011, the training staff did an amazing job."
Wainwright said he enjoys his daily drive to Busch Stadium and seeing the Arch every day, and he said after nine seasons as a Cardinal, his "heart is in St. Louis."
"I love driving to the field and seeing the Arch, driving up and seeing the amazing Busch Stadium," Wainwright said. "It's a treat to work there every day and it's something that continues to catch me off-guard and makes me feel like I'm way too blessed than I deserve.
"Usually, I'm not at a loss for words. But the city of St. Louis means so much to me that it's taking me a little bit to get it out. Thank you to the fans for embracing me. Thank you for the great memories that I've had over the years and I look forward to many more memories going forward."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.