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.

Source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.