Don’t forget, the Cardinals will get Adam Wainwright back next season

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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.