Keri: Sticker shock of Wainwright’s deal is MLB’s new normal

From Jonah Keri at on March 28, 2013:

The Cardinals agreed to terms with Adam Wainwright this week on a five-year, $97.5 million deal, the latest reminder that baseball is swimming in cash, and that salaries will continue to soar.

Let’s start with this: Wainwright is a very good pitcher. In 2009, the right-hander staged an impressive breakout, adding two more strikeouts per nine innings and bumping his ground ball rate to a career high, above 50 percent. In 2009, 2010, and 2012, Wainwright averaged 221 innings pitched, with a 2.97 ERA, a FIP just more than 3.00, and a 4.97 Wins Above Replacement per season. He’s the best pitcher on the Cardinals’ staff by a wide margin, and one of the 10 best in the National League.

You’ll notice that 2011 isn’t included in the accounting of Wainwright’s track record. That’s because he missed that entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His new contract doesn’t kick in until 2014 — the year he turns 33.

How does Wainwright’s deal rank with other recent big contracts for elite starting pitchers? Let’s take a look.


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Originally published: March 28, 2013. Last Updated: March 28, 2013.