Cardinals’ Updated Rotation, Payroll After Adam Wainwright’s $8M Contract
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Cardinals’ Updated Rotation, Payroll After Adam Wainwright’s $8M Contract

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly keeping a franchise stalwart. 

On Thursday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Cardinals re-signed starting pitcher Adam Wainwright for one year and $8 million. The right-hander has been with St. Louis since he was a rookie in 2005 and had an impressive bounce-back effort in the shortened 2020 campaign after he seemed to be trending in the wrong direction.

According to Spotrac, the Cardinals’ total salary for the 2021 season prior to signing Wainwright was $118.1 million. That means this deal will bring it to approximately $126.1 million as they look to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

How well the pitching staff performs will go a long way toward determining whether that becomes a reality. 

There is some uncertainty with Dakota Hudson out for the 2021 season following Tommy John surgery. With that in mind, here is a projected rotation from FanGraphs, although a December report from Anne Rogers of MLB.com suggested Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo could compete for starts as well:

  • Jack Flaherty
  • Kwang Hyun Kim
  • Adam Wainwright
  • Carlos Martinez
  • Miles Mikolas

Whether Flaherty can bounce back from an uncharacteristic 2020 season and Wainwright can build on it remain the two biggest question marks for the rotation.

Flaherty was among the best pitchers in baseball in 2019 with a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 231 strikeouts in 196.1 innings, but he posted a 4.91 ERA in nine starts last season. Optimistic Cardinals fans will point out last year was anything but normal with no fans and a small sample size with a condensed schedule and surely hope it was a blip on the radar for the ace.

Wainwright, though, was much better in 2020.

He finished with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 65.2 innings after posting an ERA of 4.19 or higher the previous four years. Included in that stretch was his 5.11 mark in 2017.

There is no questioning a career that includes a World Series title, three All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and even a Silver Slugger, but Wainwright seemed to be well past his prime before the 2020 season started. That he was so effective even in a two-month window likely helped convince the Cardinals to bring him back for 2021.

He will now be a key part of their rotation.

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