While the main Cardinals question this offseason is whether the club will get assertive and make a big signing, another is Adam Wainwright’s MLB future with or away from the Cardinals.
Regular 101 ESPN guests Dan McLaughlin and Jen Langosch have both said it wouldn’t surprise them to see Uncle Charlie pitching in 2019, with the former stating Wainwright may decide to do so not only because he’s got a little left in the tank, but to also put future paychecks toward causes close to the righty’s heart.
“My gut tells me from people who were around the club that Wainwright wants to pitch beyond this year,” Danny Mac recently told 101 ESPN. “One of the things to consider with Adam Wainwright is he’s already made a ton of money. We all know that. His life work goes beyond baseball.
“It’s about helping people, and if he can out and make another four or five million bucks…He might say, ‘You know what? I’m going to do this because not only do I feel I can pitch again and I feel good, but I also have a chance to take that money and go make a difference,’”
The Cards broadcaster added a caveat, however: “I mean, you’ve got a lot of young guys coming up…Quite frankly, the Cardinals may say it’s time to move on. I don’t know.”
There in lies the rub; Wainwright showed he’s still capable of putting in quality performances through his short return this past season, but will those last few starts be enough to keep him in St. Louis?
The Athletic‘s Mark Saxon isn’t quite sure Wainwright still fits with the Cardinals.
“I just don’t see it,” Saxon recently told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’ “I don’t know what I’m missing, but I just look at what we just saw from the pitching side with all the guys who came up, and I’m wondering if you’re really honest about performances and what it looked like, is Adam Wainwright a better option than Daniel Poncedeleon? Is he a better option than Austin Gomber or John Gant? I didn’t see that.
“Now, granted, it was so few innings when he came back; it was just two or three starts. So maybe they just believe so strongly in his upside, but again, he’s going to turn 38,” he added. “I just don’t see the role. And if he’s not in the starting rotation, does Adam Wainwright want to be a long reliever?”
Which is another good question only to be answered in time. Would Wainwright even want to be a short-reliever? Or is he strictly interested in taking the ball every fifth day?
“Is he willing to accept that kind of role when there are probably teams out there that would give him some kind of a look as a starting pitcher?” Saxon continued. “If that’s really his dream, to kind of keep it going and redeem himself, that’s a cool idea, but I just don’t see it fitting on the Cardinals. There’s just too much pitching depth.”
Saxon also talked big-name free agents with Bernie and Michelle Smallmon, and you can read his thoughts on if he’d rather Bryce Harper and Manny Machado below, followed by the entire segment’s audio:
“I think in some ways Harper fits better because of the left-handed bat. I think Harper is a more unique player because of the extraordinary power. Machado is an incredible hitter. There are some very mixed opinions on his defense. It seems like the scouts and former players love his defense, and then the numbers hate his defense at short stop specifically. He could be a really good third baseman.
“From a positional standpoint, Machado fits more. I just think in the long run Harper has a chance to be a better player. That’s just my particular opinion…If you watch Machado play a lot, he’s kind of from the glider side. He doesn’t really bust it hard out of the box if it’s a groundball.
“I just wonder with some of these young players and the way they’re playing, whether that would maybe be a bad influence on the team. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy in the clubhouse; I just think he’s not a guy who runs hard all the time.”