Around the Horn: Adam Wainwright’s extension and more MLB rumors

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

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We’re going Around the Horn, taking a peek at the latest on Adam Wainwright’s extension talks and more MLB rumors, news and notes.

After signing Yadier Molina to a one-year, $10 million contract extension, Adam Wainwright is next on the St. Louis Cardinals’ to-do list. And after Wainwright, 40, said he plans on pitching in 2022, the two sides could soon engage in negotiations.

A template for any Wainwright extension could be the one-year, $20 million extension Charlie Morton recently signed with the Atlanta Braves. Wainwright actually has better numbers than Morton this season (2.91 ERA in 176 innings vs. 3.47 ERA in 158 innings) while his three complete games are the most he’s had in a season since 2014, making it likely that Wainwright finishes in the top-10 in NL Cy Young voting.

But an American League general manager believes that Wainwright is likely to land a one-year deal worth $10-12 million because 1) he won’t be tempted to test free agency and will only return to the Cardinals and 2) to make one final World Series run with Yadier Molina.

Speaking of extensions…

The San Francisco Giants recently signed Brandon Crawford to a two-year, $32 million extension — and they could look to extend Buster Posey before they have to decide on his $22 million club option before his age-35 season.

Crawford, 34, received a $1 million raise in his latest deal and it’s possible Posey lands a multi-year deal with an average annual value close to his $22 million club option. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted, Molina earned $20 million per season in his age 35 through 37 seasons. Posey, who is having his best season in almost a decade, is a far superior offensive player than Molina was at that time, meaning a contract worth north of $20 million per season would be justified.

Mets might be turning things around

After Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez responded to fans’ boos with thumbs-down gestures, team president Sandy Alderson issued a statement calling his players’ actions “totally unacceptable” and saying it “will not be tolerated.”

The statement was viewed by rival executives as an overreaction, with one National League official saying his team thought it “just poured gas on the situation” and “turned it into a shit show.” Then acting general manager Zack Scott was arrested for an alleged DUI and the Mets appeared to hit rock bottom.

Instead, the Mets are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have climbed to within four games in the NL East. The difference? Their stars have stepped up. Pete Alonso is in the middle of a seven-game hitting streak and is slashing .429/.469/.964 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and eight RBI. Javier Baez is hitting .346/.414/.654 with two home runs in his last seven games. Francisco Lindor, meanwhile, is hitting .308/.317/.615 with two home runs in that stretch.

While we’re talking about the Mets…

I thought Tampa Bay Rays general manager Erik Neander would have been a perfect fit to run the Mets’ baseball operations department.

Neander, 38, is responsible for turning the Rays into a powerhouse despite extreme financial constraints and would have given the Mets the credibility and front office stability they have sought, yet failed to address, in hiring Scott and Jared Porter. Instead, the Rays promoted Neander to president of baseball operations, eliminating any chance he leaves Tampa Bay for an outside opportunity.

Agency changes

Rival agents have had the agency William Morris Endeavor on their radar for years. And after adding former Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler to their firm, those same agents are wondering what exactly WME might be planning.

Also joining Eppler at WME are agents Jim Murray and Michael Stival, who left prominent firm Excel Sports Management, adding to the intrigue. Among the players they are taking to WME include the Texas Rangers’ Jack Leiter, New York Yankees’ Anthony Volche and the Boston Red Sox’s Adam Ottavino. There are believed to be others, but those names are unclear at this time.

WME had been aggressively targeting high-profile names to add to their agency, having talked to former New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen before he was hired by Roc Nation, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Intentional balk

The intentional balk is baseball’s latest trend — and it’s only just getting started.

Teams are implementing it as they fear opposing players are relaying signs from second base to the batters at home plate. An intentional balk, in that scenario, moves the runner to third base and eliminates those fears. The strategy, first used by Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, figured to become more common in the next month and in the postseason as paranoia about sign stealing has increased in recent seasons after the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal.

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