It’s official: Adam Wainwright will have Tommy John surgery

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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.