adam wainwright dancingYou may continue disliking Adam Wainwright.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cardinals and Wainwright, who was set to be a free agent after the season, have agreed to a lofty five-year, $97.5 million extension. Wainwright, 31, came back last year from 2011 Tommy John surgery, and he was very good in the second half.

That said, man-oh-man the market has completely changed. Obviously we already knew this to be true, but nearly $20 million per year on a five-year deal for a 31-year-old two years removed from Tommy John, and his one season since wasn’t even a dominant year (Edit: Well, upon a closer look, the advanced stats say he was just about as good last year as he was from 2008 to 2010)? And that’s an extension, not a free agent contract.

Wainwright was obviously ridiculously good from 2008 to 2010, so the Cardinals are banking both on his longevity and his return to dominance. If he doesn’t get back to that kind of form, and instead languishes in the 3.75 to 4.00 ERA range, this deal is going to become an albatross quickly.

But when does that ever happen to the Cardinals?

(Does this change the calculus on a Matt Garza extension? I’d think not. Garza hasn’t yet really been in Wainwright’s class, and Garza is still trying to come back from his elbow injury. Garza’s health and effectiveness in 2013 will dictate his next contract, and even with a dominant season (from May on), I’m not sure he gets this much money on the open market.)

  • Jed

    It may not start as an albatross, but by the end, I think it will be.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I think that the “by the end” view is the wrong way to look at it. The Cards are paying Wainwright $97.5M over 5 years: and what they realistically want/expect is 3 Wainwright years up front. Consider what they spend afterwards to be retroactive salary for those years.

      • Rebuilding

        I think you are exactly right. This is what good teams do and then carry the weight in later years. Especially with all of the new TV money coming in

    • George

      Trust me this will blow up in there face. He will over extend himself trowing a large percentage off breaking balls , like he did 2011 when they won the World Series to throw hitters off cause he’s super, super competitive at 31 good night expecially with a weak ass fastball in the 88-91 range. The start off the cardinal empire crumbling which started last year with the departure off larusa & pujols, carpenter blow up ect. The cubs are ascending & the cardinals are descending.

  • Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

    There’s basically nothing on the SP market for next season. I don’t want to extend Garza with his injury history, but we may have no choice.

    • BWA

      Garza, Josh Johnson, Lincecum and Shields are probably the best available. Cubs are gonna need at least 1 of them unless they make a trade.

      • Marc N.

        Phil Hughes would be a good buy in the vein of a Ted Lilly – a talented AL East arm in the late 20’s coming into an easier environment to survive in. That’s if he survives this season.

        I’m sure the Cubs will also pursue more sure bets on the trade market. I mean you’re not stacking 50-60+ prospects deep, which this system is already at and will most definitely be by the draft, to sit around and wait.

  • MAtt

    If you look at his underlying numbers he was an ace last year. Good deal for both sides. A little longer than the Cardinals would have liked, but an ace for less than 20 mill per? Have to like that. Surely would have gotten more on open market.

    • Brett

      That’s fair. He was pretty close to where he was during that ’08-’10 stretch. I should be more fair above.

      • Dude

        No you shouldn’t, it’s the Cardinals

  • Tommy

    Let’s hope this is the first of many bad moves by the Cardinals!

    As for Garza – as long as the Dodgers are still around, no contract is safe. They’ve changed the financial landscape of baseball (at least for the foreseeable future).

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Wainwright is meant to be a Cardinal. Arrogant, self entitled, disrespectful to opponents, excuses always at the ready. Douche bags can get rich.
    For those looking for hope, his fastball velocity dropped from 91 to 90 from 2010 to 2012, and he didn’t break 89 in his start yesterday.

  • Colocubfan

    What do you think? Is this something I can give my brother the Cardinals fan a hard time about, or should I just sit and say nothing like usual?

  • justinjabs

    Meh, good for Wainwright.

    • TWC

      ::glares at Justin::

      • justinjabs

        Hey, there was a “meh” in there. I wasn’t jumping up and down for joy!

        • TWC

          Keep digging, kid. Keep digging.

          • preacherman86

            i’ll say it…hooray!! cardinals for the first time in awhile WWWAAAAAYYY overpaid for an oft injured aging starter in a league in which aging players find it hard to get money. Lohse woulda been a better signing for the price!!

  • fromthemitten

    I say worst case scenario we can’t trade Garza, make a qualifying offer, and get a draft pick out of it.

  • another JP

    Probably not the best deal for the Cards since Wainwright’s age might be a factor at the end of the contract, but SL is in good shape since Holliday and Molina are the only other high priced players they have and they’re only locked up for another 2/3 years. Carpenter/Beltrans deal off the books next year, so it’s not like they’ve become the Dodgers or anything; they’ll be fine with the young talent they have.

  • Marc N.

    Good for Wainwright and the Cards.

    We’re already looking forward to that decline but we’re talking a guy who is only 30 with a pretty efficient style of pitching. He’s not even in the top 60 for pitches thrown over the past 4 years, and even in his meat years when he threw over 460 innings he only finished 12th in pitches thrown. He’s come back successfully from TJ, which is always good to see and plenty of high end guys – hell even mid-tier guys like Dempster – were/are pitching effectively into their late 30’s nowadays.

    Sucks that another arm is off of the FA market next year, but to be fair I never really thought there would be an opportunity to sign him.

  • Die hard

    Now Garza has incentive to stop being a head case and cash in with a good year or two

  • FFP

    “Does this change the calculus on a Matt Garza?”
    This (and the Dodgers, as Tommy mentions upthread) also changes the calculus for Samardzija. He is gambling big on his own future by waiting, but I hope for all concerned that he wins big in a little while.
    The computers in the front office must have smoke coming out of them as they try to project future dollar values around the league.

    • JR

      If I am the Cubs I just hold on to him. How many teams are going to want to pay Garza a lot and give up draft pick compensation with his durability situation? Even if he pitches well, he’s a step below Wainwright. His trade value sucks, the Cubs should just hold on to him. They have all the leverage.

      • Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

        At this point, if Garza hits the market, he’s got a very good chance of being the best available free agent pitcher. Someone will spaz out and give him a huge deal, draft pick or no.

        • hansman1982

          Then, if he goes on to have a healthy and productive year, Cubs fans will spaz out and wonder why we let him walk on a super-friendly deal…

          • Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

            *shrug* What’s the point of having the smartest front office EVAH! (Boston accent) if they don’t get these sorts of big decisions right.

        • JR

          Well later than Garza. Best of luck. I still think the compensation will make less teams all in on Garza, which will ultimately hurt his contract. If I am a player that’s less than a true stud, I would be a bit nervous over the qualifying thing. I think the results speak for themselves this past year.

        • Edwin

          If he pitches like 2011 Matt Garza, I think he gets the big FA deal. Otherwise, if he pitches like he’s done throughout most of his career, I think his contract winds up closer to the Edwin Jackson value. I just don’t think other teams view him as a top of the rotation starter, even if he does wind up being the “best available”.

  • Deez

    Goes to show how good of a deal the Edwin Jackson deal was!