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Longtime Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright hopes to remain in St. Louis, but he’s keeping his options open as he nears a trip to free agency. That could mean returning to his native Georgia, as the Braves have interest in Wainwright and have already contacted him, David O’Brien of The Athletic reports.

This could be a full-circle move for Wainwright, who began his career with the Atlanta organization, even playing under current Braves manager Brian Snitker in Double-A ball. Wainwright never appeared in the majors for the Braves, though, as they traded him to the Cardinals in 2003 in a deal that sent outfielder J.D. Drew to Atlanta.

For St. Louis, the Wainwright acquisition couldn’t have worked out better. Now 39 years old, Wainwright’s a three-time All-Star, a World Series winner and a Cardinals icon who has provided the club 2,169 1/3 innings of 3.38 ERA/3.41 FIP pitching. He’s also third all-time for the team in wins with 167, trailing only Bob Gibson and Jesse Haines. And Wainwright showed this past season that he still has plenty to offer, as he amassed 65 2/3 frames of 3.15 ERA/4.11 FIP ball with 7.4 K/9 and 2.06 BB/9.

The type of production Wainwright put forth in 2020 would be welcome for the Braves, whose rotation dealt with its share of adversity. Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels, whom they were counting on to play major roles, each missed almost the entire season because of injuries; Mike Foltynewicz ended up on the outs; and several other options logged awful numbers over multiple starts.

Going forward, the good news for the Braves is that their rotation doesn’t appear a need a ton of help. While Hamels is a free agent, Soroka’s coming back to join Max Fried and Ian Anderson atop the Braves’ staff. That trio gives the team an excellent top end of the rotation, and adding someone like Wainwright would give the Braves a more-than-capable No. 4 and a well-respected veteran who would be able to mentor their younger starters.

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