The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they’ve reached a contract agreement with Adam Wainwright to pitch in 2022. The announcement comes as no surprise as Wainwright has made his intention to return clear. The news comes only a day after the Cardinals announced that Wainwright would start the National League Wild Card game next week.
A Historic Battery
Wainwright’s extension seemed inevitable once long-time battery mate, Yadier Molina inked an extension in August. Assuming health, they will break the major league record for total starts by a battery. The current record is 324, held by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan. Wainwright and Molina have 301 starts together. They are currently the only active major league battery with more than 200 starts. Both are Cardinals legends with their names sprinkled across the franchise leaderboards.
If their countless milestones and records weren’t enough, the postseason moments cement their respective legacies in Cardinal history. Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS is defined by both carrying the club to the World Series. In the top of the ninth, Molina hit a two-run home run to give the Cardinals the lead. Of course, the memory imprinted on the brains of Cardinals fans is the 0-2 curveball from Wainwright that froze Carlos Beltran. The image of Molina leaping into the air behind the plate as Wainwright lifts his arms is as iconic as Darrell Porter leaping into Bruce Sutter’s arms in 1982. It ranks up there with David Freese throwing his helmet between his legs in 2011. In fact, it’s possible that it may be second in Cardinals lore only to Ozzie Smith rounding the bases in 1985 as Jack Buck urged everyone to “Go Crazy, folks! Go Crazy!”
Wainwright Contract Means an Ace Returns
The contract extension for Wainwright shouldn’t be looked at as a sentimental hurrah for a pitcher past his prime. The Cardinals are securing the services of a pitcher who has pitched well despite his age. Wainwright has 29 quality starts since the beginning of 2020, the most in the major leagues. He recorded his 2,000th strikeout this season and has a 3.05 ERA on the year. He leads the staff in wins, games started, innings pitched, and complete games. Wainwright will receive some consideration in Cy Young voting, though he won’t win. All said, the Cardinals have filled a rotation spot for next year with a pitcher that has performed as well as nearly anyone.
The specific terms of the contract have not yet been released, but the length of the term is one year. Although Wainwright has not stated that this is his last contract, he has indicated that he intends to retire with Molina who has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2022 season.
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