Updated at: 03/28/2013 4:39 PM
By CHUCK KING
(AP) JUPITER, Fla. - Adam Wainwright fought to hold back his emotions.
"Usually I am not at a loss for words, but the city of St. Louis means so much to me that it’s taken me a little bit to get it out," he said.
Wainwright will be staying with the Cardinals for a while after agreeing Thursday to $97.5 million, five-year contract covering 2014-18. The deal, the largest for a pitcher in team history, raises his guaranteed income to $109.5 million over the next six seasons.
"I feel like my heart is in St. Louis," Wainwright said, surrounded by family, members of the Cardinals’ front office and his teammates. "I love it there. I love driving to the field and seeing the arch, driving up and seeing the amazing Busch Stadium. It’s a treat to work there every day and it’s something that continues to take me off guard and make me feel like I am way too blessed."
At one point Wainwright called his young daughters up to the podium for a hug of support. he also embraced Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and General Manager John Mozeliak. Wainwright saved some of most emotional remarks for brother, Trey.
"The guy who taught me how to play baseball," Wainwright said, his voice trailing off
Wainwright had been eligible to become a free agent after the World Series. He gets $12 million this year under his previous deal, and the new agreement announced Thursday pays him $19.5 million in each of the following five years.
A 31-year-old right-hander, Wainwright was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA last year after missing the Cardinals’ World Series championship season in 2011 because of elbow surgery.
Wainwright was 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 2010 and was an NL All-Star.
Under Wainwright’s previous contract, he was guaranteed $15 million from 2008-11, and the Cardinals had options for $9 million in 2012 and $12 million in 2013 that had to be exercised or declined simultaneously.
"Adam represents everything the Cardinals look for in a player," DeWitt said. "He’s an elite pitcher with a tremendous work ethic, a great teammate and a leader, and a winning-championship caliber player."
Wainwright is 80-48 with a 3.15 ERA during his eight-year major league career, which has been spent entirely with St. Louis. He is 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 13 postseason appearances with four saves.
"This really embraces everything that we have been trying to accomplish over the last years in terms of the culture of what we are trying to build," Mozeliak said.
With Chris Carpenter likely out of the season with a potential career-ending nerve issue, Wainwright enters the season as the Cardinals’ unquestioned ace.
"This would be empty if I didn’t thank Carp for what he’s done, teaching me the mentality of a pro, professionalism, and tenacity," Wainwright said.
NOTES: Wainwright would get a $500,000 bonus each time he’s among the top 10 in Cy Young Award voting. He would receive a $50,000 bonus if he’s an All-Star, $50,000 for being voted the league championship series MVP, for World Series MVP, $50,000 for a Gold Glove and $25,000 for a Silver Slugger. He also would get $50,000 for winning division series MVP if the award is instituted.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)