Adam Wainwright: Reliving Infamous Trade to Cardinals


Adam Wainwright continues to enjoy success for the St. Louis Cardinals, but let us take a look at the trade that sent him from Atlanta to St. Louis.

The Atlanta Braves selected Adam Wainwright with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft. Wainwright signed during the 2000 season and reported to the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Braves. During his stint with the GCL Braves, Wainwright started seven games, pitching to the beat of a 1.12 ERA and 4-0 record.

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After Adam Wainwright’s stellar start to his minor league career, the Atlanta Braves decided to promote Wainwright to the Danville Braves; however, he struggled slightly with the promotion, posting a 3.68 ERA in six games started. Wainwright finished his first professional season with a 6-2 record and a nice 2.35 ERA, showing why the Braves decided to invest their first round pick in the 2000 draft.

Following the 2000 season, the Braves bumped Adam Wainwright up to the Single-A Macon Braves. Wainwright spent the entire season with the Macon Braves, starting 28 games that year. Wainwright posted his highest ERA of his short-lived Braves career that season, sitting at 3.77; however, he won 10 games that season, a mark he accomplished twice in the Braves’ minor league system.

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Adam Wainwright climbed the ranks once again in 2002, earning a promotion from Single-A Macon to Single-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. Wainwright improved on his prior year’s ERA, cutting it from 3.77 to 3.31. Wainwright continued to show his impressive durability by compiling his second consecutive season with over 160 innings pitched.

As Adam Wainwright entered his fourth season in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system, Wainwright maintained his steady assent through the system, earning a promotion to Double-A Greenville. He continued to post good numbers, finishing the 2003 season with a 3.37 ERA across 27 games started. Also, Wainwright tied his career-high minor league win total with 10 wins.

In December of 2003, the Atlanta Braves decided to trade Adam Wainwright to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves traded Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis, and Ray King to the Cardinals for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero. The Braves needed to fill their void in the corner outfield positions; thus, they pursued J.D. Drew. However, J.D. Drew only spent one season in Atlanta, albeit a good one. Drew posted a career-high 31 home runs with the Braves, along with a .305 batting average. 

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  • The Braves ultimately traded their best pitching prospect in Adam Wainwright for a “rental” pair of outfielders. J.D. Drew spent one season in Atlanta before his contract expired, and he left the Braves to sign a 5-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After the 2004 season, the Braves had nothing to show for the trade that sent Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals, because both Drew and Marrero left Atlanta after the 2004 season.

    After the 2003 trade that sent Adam Wainwright to St. Louis, Wainwright spent the next two seasons (2004 and 2005) at Triple-A Memphis. He displayed regression when he moved to Memphis, earning a lackluster 5.37 ERA in 2004 and a 4.40 ERA in 2005. Although he struggled in his first two seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system, the team called him up at the end of 2005, allowing him to make his MLB debut out of the bullpen.

    In 2006, the Cardinals continued to use Adam Wainwright out of the bullpen, accumulating 61 appearances and finishing with a 3.12 ERA. The next season, Wainwright received his chance to claim a role in the starting rotation, and he never looked back after getting the chance. As a member of the Cardinals’ starting rotation, Wainwright amassed 119 wins, with a minuscule 2.96 ERA. More impressively, Wainwright’s FIP sits at 3.09 during that stretch, an elite-level FIP.

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    During Adam Wainwright’s time with the Cardinals, he received three All-Star selections, won two Gold Glove Awards, and finished in the top-three for the Cy Young Award an eye-popping four times. Although Wainwright finished in the top-three for the CYA, the award continues to elude the All-Star pitcher. In addition to Wainwright’s impressive resume, he won two World Series titles with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.

    The trade between the Cardinals and Braves goes down as one of the worst in franchise history, if not the worst. Imagine a Braves team sporting Adam Wainwright as the team’s ace. The Braves need an ace that is the caliber of Wainwright, so that makes the trade sting even more. The Wainwright trade forever goes down in the Braves’ history books as one of the worst ever. Let us hope that the Cardinals made the reverse mistake in trading the Braves Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden

    Next: Atlanta Braves: Ranking John Hart's Trades in 2015

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