Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright back in 2023; coaching staff to change

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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Adam Wainwright will pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals next season, choosing to return for an 18th and final year with the club even as longtime teammates Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina head off into retirement.

The 41-year-old Wainwright informed the NL Central champions of his decision to return shortly after they were eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Wainwright did not pitch in either game in part because he had struggled with his delivery late in the season.

“I do tend to think the way the season ended led even more to me coming back,” Wainwright said Wednesday, “because I just didn’t like that. I don’t like gong out like that. I wasn’t performing like I know I should have been performing. Wasn’t helping the team like I knew I should have been helping the team. We didn’t win. I love my teammates.”

“But looking back on it now, it just seemed like everything that happened led me to coming back one more year,” he said.

Asked whether it would be just that – one final year – he replied: “Yes.” But then Wainwright made it clear that he has no interest in answering questions about retirement every week, instead imploring folks to “just let me go out and pitch.”

Wainwright finished 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 start, his first losing season in which he made at least 20 starts. He won just twice over his final six starts, though, and had a 7.22 ERA while dealing with what he called a “dead arm.”

Wainwright earned $17.5 million on a one-year deal last season. Terms of his contract for 2023 have not been disclosed.

“We all know how competitive he is, we know how special he is in that clubhouse and what he means to this organization,” Cardinals president John Mozeliak said, “so we’re just glad we could get it done.”

Wainwright will head into next season needing five wins to reach 200 for his career. The right-hander is 15 behind Jesse Haines for the second-most wins in franchise history; Bob Gibson is the leader with 251 of them.

Wainwright and Molina set the major league record for career starts as a battery last season, eventually hitting 328 starts together. But with Molina heading into retirement, Andrew Knizner is in line to be the everyday catcher, though Mozeliak did indicate Wednesday that the club would be in the market for help behind the plate.

“We’re super excited that he’s coming back, and we understood that he had interest in pitching again,” Mozeliak said. “He and I started talking about this in early September, and obviously the September didn’t go as he wanted it to, but we really do feel like there’s something left in that tank.”

In other news, Mozeliak said he was willing to offer new contracts to pitching coach Mike Maddux and hitting coach Jeff Albert but both decided to step away. The 61-year-old Maddux had been with the Cardinals since 2018 and Albert spent time with the Astros before taking over as the Cardinals hitting coach ahead of the 2019 season.

The Cardinals had already lost bench coach Skip Schumaker to the Marlins as their manager this week. And with bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd being reassigned as a special assistant within the organization, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol will have four spots to replace on his staff heading into his second season in charge.

Turner Ward, who had been the assistant hitting coach, could be a candidate for promotion. Pitching strategist Dusty Blake also will be back and could be among the candidates to replace Maddux as the pitching coach.

“Clearly we have a lot of openings,” Mozeliak said. “We’ll look internally and we’ll look externally. We know we have some qualified people within the organization but we also want to make sure were addressing all our needs.”

Mozeliak also acknowledged spending time this week with All-Star third baseman Nolen Arenado, who must decide within five days of the end of the World Series whether to opt out of the remaining five years and $144 million on his deal.

Arenado, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, is coming off a season in which he hit .293 with 30 homers, 103 RBIs and a career-low strikeout rate, putting him in the MVP race alongside teammate Paul Goldschmidt. And whereas opting out might have been a longshot last year, Arenado’s year raises the question of whether he could ear more on the open market.

Mozeliak said there is “optimism” surrounding Arenado and the Cardinals but there was nothing to announce yet.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.