Adam Wainwright and Cardinals have “ongoing” and “casual” contract talks

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Adam Wainwright said a few weeks ago that he was optimistic about long-term extension talks with the Cardinals and with the right-hander arriving at spring training yesterday Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the two sides have had “casual” discussions about a deal.

Goold classified the talks as “ongoing” and added that they “expect discussions to intensify on an extension after the start of spring training.”

Wainwright is entering the final season of a contract signed in March of 2008 and will be paid $12 million before hitting the open market at age 32.

Obviously his age means that using Felix Hernandez’s massive extension with the Mariners as a starting point won’t make much sense–King Felix will be Wainwright’s current age when that deal is over, after all–but in terms of recent extensions establishing a per-season price for top-line starters $20 million seems like the baseline right now. The bigger question will be how comfortable the Cardinals feel committing to Wainwright into his mid-30s.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.