Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he feared the worst when news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury surfaced yesterday and unfortunately it’s now official, as the team announced today that Wainwright will undergo Tommy John surgery.
He’ll return in 12-18 months with a big scar and a rebuilt elbow, but whether Wainwright will still be with the Cardinals remains to be seen. St. Louis can void their $9 million option for 2012 and $12 million for 2013 if he ends this season on the disabled list, which is now a given.
I wrote this morning about the various ways the Cardinals can approach the contract situation, but the short version is that they can void the deal and make Wainwright a free agent after this season, try to work out a new multi-year deal that includes less upfront money, or simply commit to paying him $21 million in the hopes he comes back healthy in early or mid-2012.
In the meantime the Cardinals have said repeatedly that they plan to replace Wainwright with an in-house candidate rather than pursue a veteran replacement such as free agent Kevin Millwood. That could change after they get a longer look at the various rotation possibilities in camp, but for now the injury creates big opportunities for guys like Kyle McClellan, Brian Tallet, Ian Snell, and Lance Lynn.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.