Getty Images

Right-hander Adam Wainwright will return to the St. Louis Cardinals for the 2023 season, his 18th and final big-league season, he said Wednesday. The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Wainwright signed a one-year deal worth $17.5 million, with $10 million of that deferred

Across a standout career so far, Wainwright, 41, has amassed a 3.38 ERA (118 ERA+) and a 3.09 strikeout-to-walk ratio, as well as 46.8 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations. Last season, the righty posted a 3.71 ERA (103 ERA+) and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32 starts, his third consecutive full-length season with 30-plus starts.

"I just think it was meant to be for me to come back for one more year," Wainwright told reporters, including Jeff Jones, confirming that the 2023 season will indeed be his last on the mound. "Long story short: yes, this'll be the last one. Just everybody relax, don't freak out about it." 

Wainwright recently broke down why his performance deteriorated late in the 2022 season. As CBS Sports noted then:

"[After] that game my stride length got shorter by almost a foot. Timing was thrown," Wainwright tweeted. He added in another message that he "didn't stay diligent enough with my film work to catch it immediately," and that "what I was attributing to dead arm was an awful delivery." Wainwright closed his thread by apologizing to his fans and teammates and stating, "I owed an explanation ... so there you go."

Wainwright was often lumped in with retiring Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and designated hitter Albert Pujols as veterans ready to head into the next phase of their lives, but clearly Wainwright isn't ready for his playing career to be over just yet.

While Wainwright has only ever pitched for the Cardinals in the majors -- his 390 starts are the third-most in franchise history, 11 behind second-place Bob Forsch -- it's worth noting that he was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves subsequently traded him to the Cardinals as part of a five-player trade that also sent Ray King and Jason Marquis to St. Louis in exchange for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero.