Ken Rosenthal has reported that the St. Louis Cardinals have signed the ace of their pitching staff, Adam Wainwright to a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension:
Sources: Wainwright, #STLCards in agreement on five-year, $97.5M extension that will run from 2014 to '18.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 27, 2013
That's a lot of money for the Cards to cough up, but it also happens to be a relative bargain considering the going rate for number on starters right now. Considering that in the last year or so Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez have all signed mega-contracts, the cheapest of which being the six-year, $127.5 million pact signed by Cain, it sure does seem that St. Louis convinced Wainwright to leave a lot of money on the table. Perhaps he and Jered Weaver, he of the five-year, $80 million extension signed at the end of 2011, can form some kind of support group for underpaid aces.
Of course, Wainwright is different from all of those pitchers, even Weaver, in that he is older than them all at age 31 and that he recently missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. Those certainly had to factor in to negotiations as the two sides drew parallels to aforementioned aces with fat new contracts. While the average annual value on the deal is nice for the Cardinals, they have to at least be feeling a little bit queasy about the fact that Wainwright will be 37 years old by the time this contract runs out, so they definitely are taking something of a long-term risk in order to save some money over the life of the deal.
Perhaps the more interesting subplot to this deal is that the Cardinals have been on something of a spending spree of late. In the last few months, they've not only extended Wainwright, but also handed a five-year, $75 million deal to Yadier Molina and more recently a five-year, $31 million pact to Allen Craig. This planned outlay of big money certainly goes a long way towards explaining why the Cardinals were so reluctant to raise their bid in the negotiations for Albert Pujols two off-seasons ago. It is hard to envision how they could've re-signed those three other players had they chosen to throw crazy long-term money at Pujols.