By: Jonathan Goad
It was announced recently that veteran pitcher, Adam Wainwright signed a one year deal to return to the Cardinals in 2019. While the financial numbers haven’t been released yet, reports are that the base salary is lower than he’s been paid over the past five years (5-year, $97.5 million). His deal does include incentives for him to make more money next season.
The deal has actually been postponed, however. Don’t worry, it’s not due to the Cardinals changing their mind. Because the base salary is more than 20% lower than his previous salary, he has to become a free agent first. Major League Baseball has a maximum-cut rule. Under it, a player’s salary who is on the roster continuously cannot have their salary cut by more than 20%. Had Wainwright remained on the roster without hitting free agency, his salary would have to be at least $15.6 million in 2019.
What that tells me is that Wainwright is being very unselfish and is taking a significant pay cut. For what it’s worth, Waino has been one of my favorite Cardinals since he started saving games back in 2006. I love the way he pitches. His stuff isn’t nearly as dominant as it used to be, but the way he carries himself on the mound is just as good if not better. He does a great job of changing the speed not only of his pitches but with his delivery as well. In a game where timing is everything, this can cause trouble for hitter.
And of course, we all remember him striking out Carlos Beltran to take St. Louis to the World Series.
We also remember the final out when he struck out Brandon Inge to capture the Cards first World Series title since 1982.
Wainwright moved to the starting rotation and became a great 1-2 punch with Chris Carpenter.
While it hasn’t been announced that this will be his final season, it very well could be. Many people thought 2018 would be his last season, but injuries limited Wainwright to only eight starts. He did return to the Cardinals in September and pitched pretty well. Well enough that the Cardinals and Wainwright agreed that he can still pitch.
Some Cardinals fans may not want him to return in 2019. Their thinking is that he’s taking up a roster spot that could be used for a young arm who is MLB ready. Other arguments may focus on his health and his age. To the health argument, I’d say that if he gets hurt and goes on the DL, that opens a spot on the roster for a young pitcher.
While at age 37 and past his prime, Waino can still provide value to this team. He is a veteran presence and leader to a pitching staff full of young arms. His knowledge and insights he can provide is invaluable. Eventually, when he does decide to hang them up, I think he has a future in coaching. Wainwright could become a great pitching coach. With the leadership and knowledge I already mentioned, he could pass that along to young arms who are learning to pitch in the big leagues.
Whether he is in the rotation or pitches out of the bullpen, Adam Wainwright deserves to go out on his terms. If indeed 2019 is his final season, let’s send him off the right way.