JUPITER, Fla. • While Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright pitches less than an hour north of his team's facility against the New York Mets, his agent met with Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak about an extension for his client.
Steve Hammond said he left the meeting with the sense both sides have an interest and an urgency in reaching an agreement.
"We want to get something done before spring training ends, and that’s our goal," Hammond said after meeting for several hours with the Cardinals brass. "They have communicated clearly that they want to keep Adam here, and we’ve communicated that he wants to be here. We have to keep working on that."
Hammond declined to go into details about the negotiations.
He said there would be continuing talks over the next few days. Asked if he felt there was momentum for a deal to happen within the next week, Hammond said: "I hope there is."
He stressed that both sides are working hard to make that happen. If a deal is not struck, he added, it won't be lack of communication or effort.
"It’s just a commitment to continue to work and both sides are working hard to make that happen," Hammond said. "Both sides have to do what they think is right. We’re trying to make that happen. We’re going to be talking almost everyday."
After his start today against the New York Mets, Wainwright said about the contract negotiation: "We are trying to get some movement. Both sides are on friendly terms. Both sides are working toward a deal."
Earlier this spring, the two sides took a "break" from negotiations because the Cardinals had been unwilling to meet the length of contract Wainwright desired. The Cardinals have acknowledged the level of pitcher Wainwright is when it comes to an annual average salary for the contract. Top-line pitchers have received more than $20 million per years in recent seasons, with the most recent deals for aces eclipsing $23 million.
At close to the same age, Phillies lefty Cliff Lee signed a five-year, $120-million deal in Philadelphia as a free agent.
Wainwright would be a free agent at the end of the season if the Cardinals and their righthander cannot reach an agreement.
Hammond was Wainwright's representation back in 2008 when he and the Cardinals agreed on an extension that became the six-year, $36-million deal that expires at the end of the 2013 season.
During that contract, Wainwright has twice finished in the top three in voting for the National League Cy Young award, including a runnerup finish to Roy Halladay in 2010.
Since 2007, Wainwright's first full year as a starter in the majors, only five pitchers have ERAs better than Wainwright's 3.14, and all five of them have at least one Cy Young Award already on their resume. The righthander is 80-48 overall in 214 games (151 starts) for the Cardinals, and his 44 wins at Busch Stadium III are the most in the ballpark's seven-season history.
The Cardinals acquired Wainwright from the Atlanta Braves in December 2003 as part of a deal that sent J. D. Drew and Eli Marrero to Atlanta in exchange for Jason Marquis, Ray King, and Wainwright, the Braves' first-round pick in 2000.
Wainwright reached the majors as a callup in 2005.
He won a spot in the big-league bullpen that next spring, and by the end of the year had ascended to closer, filling in for injured veteran Jason Isringhausen. Wainwright closed out Game 7 of the 2006 National League championship series with a curveball that Carlos Beltran took for the game-ending strike, and he whistled three sliders past Detroit's Brandon Inge in Game 5 of that year's World Series to clinch the Cardinals' 10th championship.
Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told The New York Times this past week that Wainwright curve past Beltran was “the greatest finishing pitch in postseason history.”