There’s naturally a lot of focus on Albert Pujols’ impending free agency this winter, but let’s not forget that Adam Wainwright is on track to return to the Cardinals’ starting rotation next season.
Wainwright, 30, missed the entire 2011 season following Tommy John surgery in February. He was recently shut down for a week due to some scar tissue in his surgically-repaired elbow, but resumed playing catch this week. The Cardinals have already exercised their options for 2012 and 2013 on the right-hander and he is expected to have a normal offseason before reporting to spring training.
Wainwright was one of the top starting pitchers in the game before the surgery, posting a 2.93 ERA from 2007-2010. Command is often the last thing to bounce back after surgery, so he is no lock to perform at an elite level out of the gate, but with Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook all under contract for next season, the starting rotation is in pretty solid shape.
Free agent right-hander Trevor Cahill reportedly has a one-year deal in place with the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. The exact terms have yet to be disclosed, and as the agreement is still pending a physical, it has not been formally announced by the club.
Cahill, 30, is coming off of a decent, albeit underwhelming year with the Padres and Royals. He kicked off the 2017 season with a 4-3 record in 11 starts for the Padres, then split his time between the rotation and bullpen after a midseason trade to the Royals. By the end of the year, the righty led the league with 16 wild pitches and had racked up a 4.93 ERA, 4.8 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 in 84 innings for the two teams.
The A’s found themselves in desperate need of rotation depth this week after Jharel Cotton announced he’d miss the 2018 season to undergo Tommy John surgery. Right now, the team is considering some combination of Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn for the back end of the rotation — a mix that seems unlikely to change in the last two weeks before Opening Day, as Lee points out that Cahill won’t be ready to shoulder a full workload by then. Instead, he’s expected to begin the year in the bullpen and work his way up to a starting role, where the A’s hope he’ll replicate the All-Star numbers he produced with them back in 2010.