JUPITER, Fl. -- In talking to Adam Wainwright today at Roger Dean Stadium, it’s quite clear he’s making no guarantees that he’ll remain a Cardinal after this year. He wants to, no doubt. It’s his preferance, in fact. But certainly not something he can count on.
Wainwright says he needs to do not only what’s best for him and his family, but also what’s best for his fellow athletes in professional baseball. You see, whatever Wainwright ends up signing for sets a market. He says if he takes a bad contract, that does not bode well for the next 31-year old who’s in his position next.
Everyone bases contracts off of comparisions. And the next person to be compared to Wainwright would be compared to a bad contract. Thus, costing them money.
That means there is a responsibility on Wainwright to take the best deal he can to keep the union happy with the market that’s set. It’s not something many people think about, but it’s there. Not all of these decisions are based on how many $100,000 sports cars these guys need. It’s about more than that. It’s about more than THEM.
It’s about others too in the future.
Wainwright asks for patience. He asks for everyone who’s a fan of him being on the Cardinals to just trust that he’s doing everything in his - and his family’s - power to ensure he continues pitching in St. Louis. It’s what he wants, no wait, prefers. He declined to go further than that.
Even more telling, when I asked Wainwright if he could ever picture himself in another uniform he laughed and said “I don’t want to go there”. Clearly, everything he says - especially publicly - can be used in negotiations. He doesn’t want to say the wrong thing that could jeopardize his position in talks. But in talking to him this morning it is definitely about business. Much in the way it was about business for Albert Pujols. And Yadier Molina too.
One out of two resigned with the team. Wainwright joked that means he’s got a 50/50 shot of being back (he wasn’t serious). But there is something we can learn from those two situtations.
The Cardinals clearly established a value on both and were willing to go to a certain extent beyond that for Pujols and Molina. With Albert, where the Cards were willing to go wasn’t enough. With Molina, it was.
Right now, it is way too early to tell exactly where Wainwright falls on that spectrum. Is he’s as replaceable as Pujols turned out to be then, sure, the Cards might be willing to roll the dice and let him walk so they can go with their hot shot prospects. If they view him as irreplaceable as Molina then they won’t.
This is a long way from ending. Good or bad. And there’s more factors in play here than many realize. Stay tuned. Should be a wild ride to the finish.
Whatever that is.