If you look forward to next year just a little bit, the startling realization that ace Adam Wainwright will be a free agent in 2013 will hit you square in the face.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wainwright is ready to start talking contract extension and wants to stay in St. Louis for the long haul.
“In brief talks with (Cardinals executives) they feel real good about me coming back for a long time, and I want to make that happen,” Wainwright said. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t make that happen. ... It’s not like I have one foot out the door. If I’m being honest, they have to show they respect what I’ve done and what I will do. And they have. They have. So I don’t think it will be a problem."
This has to be music to Cardinals fans ears although it does sound like a narrative they have heard before. Former first baseman Albert Pujols echoed similar sentiments before he bolted for the cash in free agency.
While it would be easy to be fooled twice, Wainwright's comments feel different and the club's attitude towards the ace is different too.
With Chris Carpenter likely on his last wheel, Wainwright will be the last ace standing and if the Cardinals wish to execute their game plan of mixing talented youth with gritty, experienced veterans, Wainwright is a guy you would want to have around for a long time. He can lead the likes of Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, and Carlos Martinez into the future.
Wainwright is 31 years old and is not as young as some would think. He is just one season removed from Tommy John surgery and posted a 14-13 record and a 3.94 ERA. There are some risks to giving Wainwright a long-term contract similar to the one Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants received.
But the Cardinals must get a contract extension with Wainwright done. They must bring him back for the foreseeable future. Wainwright, along with catcher Yadier Molina, third baseman David Freese, closer Jason Motte, and left-fielder Matt Holliday can form a formidable core that will make the team a contender for years to come.
If Wainwright wants to sign, then general manager John Mozeliak needs to get this done as soon as possible.