Veteran starting pitcher Adam Wainwright will return to the St Louis Cardinals in 2023, according to Derrick Goold of the St Louis Post-Dispatch. With his longtime batterymate Yadier Molina retiring at the end of the 2022 campaign, as well as Cardinals legend Albert Pujols, there had been plenty of speculation that Wainwright would call it quits, too. Instead, he’ll return for an 18th season.
He’ll now have a chance to pick up the five pitching wins required for him to reach the 200-win milestone, while overtaking Jesse Haines’ 210 wins for second on the Cardinals’ pitching wins leaderboard is a possibility.
Wainwright, 41, pitched to a 3.71 ERA across 191 2/3 innings for the Cardinals this season. It was yet another reliable season for the veteran, who made 32 starts for the second straight season. His results did dip a little from 2021, when he posted a 3.05 ERA and finished seventh in NL Cy Young voting. However, that year was helped out somewhat by a .256 opponents BABIP, and his FIP came in at exactly 3.66 in both 2021 and 2022. He did experience a dip in velocity on his fastball from 89.3 mph to 88.1 mph, though, and his strikeout percentage fell to 17.8%, down from 21% in 2021.
Terms of the new deal have not yet been revealed, but Wainwright played the 2021 season on a one-year, $17.5M contract and will almost certainly be on a one-year deal again in 2023.
Wainwright’s re-signing solidifies the team’s rotation heading into the offseason. Miles Mikolas is signed through 2023, while midseason trade acquisition Jordan Montgomery is arbitration-eligible for the final time, and both figure to be rotation mainstays. The back end of the rotation still has some question marks, though. Injuries contributed to Steven Matz struggling in his first season in St Louis, but he’s under contract for three more seasons and should at least have an opportunity to start the season in the rotation. Jack Flaherty is under control via arbitration for one more year, and while he’s also had injury problems for a while now, he figures to have a shot in the rotation if healthy.