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St. Louis Cardinals rumors: How much will Adam Wainwright's contract cost?

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The St. Louis Cardinals' ace is a free agent after the 2012 season. How much will he cost?

I'd be excited, too.
I'd be excited, too.
Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Cardinals were never in on the Zack Greinke rumors, but when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed him to an enormous deal last week they were definitely affected, and not just because the Dodgers are bringing Yankeeball to the National League. They were affected because they've got to sign Adam Wainwright to a contract extension this year, and it's looking increasingly like his comps are getting fabulously wealthy.

At Viva El Birdos azruavatar took a look at Wainwright through the Greinke lens and figured that, on a year-by-year basis, Wainwright should be able to expect an annual value similar to the $24.5 million the Dodgers are throwing at their new No. 2 starter. Where the Cardinals might be able to get some cost savings, though, is in the overall value of the deal. Wainwright will be three years older in 2013 than Greinke is in 2012, if things go that far, and he's coming off an elbow surgery and a season in which he had a hard time convincing Cardinals fans and observers that he was completely healthy.

That doesn't sound like a pitcher who gets a six-year contract, but if it goes all the way to free agency things could be very different a year from now, as the Dodgers and new cable deals across baseball continue to push free agent prices up and Adam Wainwright moves one year further from his 2011 surgery. Only one thing, right now, seems certain: Somebody's going to be giving Adam Wainwright $20 million a year to pitch in 2014, whether it's the Cardinals or not.