Sports

St. Louis Cardinals sign Wainwright to one-year contract for 2019

AP

The St. Louis Cardinals has signed veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday morning.

Wainwright, who was due to be a free agent, will enter his 15th season with the Cardinals in 2019, matching Bob Forsch for the third-most as a pitcher in a Cardinals uniform.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

It’s not yet clear whether Wainwright will be used in the starting rotation or as a reliever.

The right-hander was due to be a free agent. Speculation has swirled whether Wainright would retire, but he had said in recent days he still wanted to pitch.

Wainwright has been considered the ace of the staff for the past decade, but his playing time recently has been hampered by a series of injuries. He returned to the rotation in September after missing nearly four months on the Disabled List.

“Adam has proven, when healthy, that he still has the ability and the drive to contribute at the highest level,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “We saw it in spring training, and again late in the season, that once he had overcome his ailments, he was prepared to give us a winning effort every time he took the mound. There is risk, but it is shared, and this deal gives us added depth as we look to 2019.”

The three-time All Star has been placed on the disabled list six times over the past four seasons, most recently for a four-month stretch in 2018 during which Wainwright recovered from another right elbow injury. These injuries have limited Wainwright to 68 starts -- 33 of them in 2016 -- over the past four seasons, according to Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com.

He had surgery on his right elbow to remove a cartilage flap last offseason, and he missed the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm.

The right-hander went 2-4 with a 4.46 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 2018. He missed nearly four months due to right elbow inflammation.

Wainwright, 37, returns to the only major-league team he’s known and to a franchise where his career records rank in the top 10 of most pitching categories, according to STL Today. He’s fifth in wins, seventh in innings pitched and second in strikeouts.

In 13 years with the Cardinals, Wainwright, a three-time All Star, has gone 148-85 with a 3.32 ERA in 352 games, 285 of which have been starts. From 2009-2014, Wainwright finished top three in Cy Young Award voting four times.

He was acquired after the 2003 season in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.

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