The St. Louis Cardinals will assume the two-year, $21 million option on starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, barring an unforeseen complication in his return from surgery, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The GM confirmed "There is no reason for us not to assume it," in regards to Wainwright's contract. Mozeliak described the stance as "unofficial" because the club option doesn't need to be exercised until shortly after the season, when the club will have an even better view of Wainwright's rehab. "To date he has had a very, very good rehab. I'm knocking on wood as we speak," Mozeliak said.
Wainwright, 29, is returning from ligament replacement surgery in February. He expects to start throwing off a mound before mid-September, and added "There is no reason whatsoever that I wouldn't be 100 percent by spring training - that is unless something totally unexpected happened."
Over the past two seasons, Wainwright's performance has irrefutably classified him as an ace. The numbers speak for themselves: 463.1 innings, 2.53 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a ground ball rate over 50%. Wainwright finished third in the 2009 Cy Young race and second behind Roy Halladay last season.