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Now is the time to talk extension with Wainwright, Carpenter

I've argued that the Cardinals made a mistake when they didn't attempt to sign Albert Pujols to a contract extension two years ago.

They could have save millions of dollars if they offered Pujols a deal before the Phillies got all crazy with Ryan Howard's contract. And Albert might have been more flexible about a hometown discount if a contract was offered while he was being "underpaid" by major league standards.

So maybe the Adam Wainwright injury situation is a blessing in disguise.

Now that the lanky young hurler is out for this season and maybe part of next, it might be a good time to talk to him about a longterm contract.

The Birds were likely going to have to pick up Wainwright's option which would have paid him $9 million in 2012 and $12 in 2013 if he wouldn't have been hurt. So, now's the club's chance to sign him to a longer deal when he's not at the top of his market. Maybe he'll take a little bit less in the short term because he knows he's going to be out...

If Wainwright would have become a free agent at the end of 2010 and he wouldn't have been hurt, he would have probably commanded a five or six year contract for $15 million a year. He's easily one of the top five pitchers in the National League over the last three years and he's in the sweet spot of his prime...

The Cardinals know Tommy John Surgery is extremely successful, so they can rest assured that Wainwright will regain his former form. But, because he could miss the first half of 2012 in his recovery, it would be wise to offer him a four or five year deal that paid market value from 2013 to its end -- but paid him less in 2012.

That's important as the Cardinals try to re-sign Pujols. If Wainwright is paid less in 2012 it will create some financial wiggle room until Kyle Lohse's $11.75 million per year nightmare comes off the books in 2013.

While they're at it, the Redbirds need to talk to Chris Carpenter about the idea of working out a cheaper extension than his $15-million 2012 option.

They should offer Carp a two or three-year deal at $10 million per year ala Scott Rolen's Cincinnati deal to give the club more financial freedom while giving the hurler some financial security.

The Cardinals were very good to Carpenter when he was out for nearly two seasons, so he would likely be mindful of that consideration -- not to mention how the Cardinals stuck by him when he was trying to get healthy after Toronto cut him loose.

It's would be a dea that made a lot of sense for both sides.

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