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Adam Wainwright deal good for everyone. OK, maybe not for the Reds

It's difficult to imagine how the Cardinals' Wednesday signing of ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright could have worked out better for all parties involved.

Wainwright gets a lifetime of security and the ability to pitch for a team that ought to be a contender every season.

St. Louis fans will keep one of their team's favorite in the fold for the rest of his prime. 

And the Cardinals got a steal of a deal on one of the best 10 pitchers in the National league over the last several seasons. While there is no need to cry for Wainwright, who will make $97.5 million over the course of the five-year deal, by all accounts he was going to be the top starter on the free agent market at the end of the approaching season.

Wainwright probably couldn't command the length or the overall dollars that younger pitchers like Zack Grienke and Cole Hamels got. But he could have stuck to his guns and tried to get an average annual value closer to those players' contracts.

Grienke got $147 million over six seasons, or $24.5 million a year. Hamels got $144 over six years that works out to $24 million annually. Wainwright's deal works out to $19.5 on average over five years. Any way you slice it, it's a below market contract that's going to allow the Cardinals future payroll flexibility.

Most people I talked to thought the Redbirds were going to have to fork over about $125 million over five years to get Wainwright to give up the opportunity to hit the free agent market.

But Wainwright was true to his word that he was going to do what he could to work out a deal to stay in St. Louis for his entire career. The young St. Louis pitching staff will keep its leader -- and, hopefully, he'll groom Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller to be the next generation of great Cardinals starters.