Lynn wants to play entire career with Cards

On eve of first start since '15, righty says he's open to extension

Lynn wants to play entire career with Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Having watched the Cardinals finalize multiyear contracts with a pair of his teammates this week, right-hander Lance Lynn said he'd be interested in opening dialogue with the organization about an extension that could keep him in St. Louis beyond this season.

Lynn is in the final year of a three-year, $22 million contract he signed in 2015 and is due to become a free agent this offseason.

"I hope to be a Cardinal for life," said Lynn, a former first-round pick by the Cards. "If that doesn't happen, then I'll see what's out there. That's pretty much been my stance the whole time. [I] don't want to be a free agent, but if that comes up then I'll take it and run with it and see where it goes."

Cards on Lynn's extension

The Cardinals have not yet broached the topic of an extension with Lynn, though that's not a surprise given that he's coming off Tommy John surgery. Lynn's start against the Cubs on Wednesday will be his first since he threw one inning in the 2015 postseason.

A month after that appearance, Lynn learned that he needed reconstructive elbow surgery. He spent 2016 watching and recovering.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they would want to do something like that it wouldn't happen until after the All-Star break, where I show that I have 15-20 starts under my belt," said Lynn, one of four players remaining from the Cardinals' last championship team. "Then try to get [a contract extension] done so we don't have to deal with that going into the free-agent period.

"I've just got to pitch. If I pitch, everything will take care of itself. I'll show them that I'm back to being who I am, and if they want me, they'll have the opportunity to keep me."

Lynn, who will turn 30 next month, will otherwise have a first opportunity to test his value on the open market. A strong 2017 season could set him up for a financial windfall, too. From 2012-15, Lynn averaged 189 innings per season, while going 60-38 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.314 WHIP. When healthy, he's been the epitome of a rotation workhorse.

The uncertainty that lies ahead was on Lynn's mind particularly during Sunday's Opening Night festivities. He made it a point to embrace each of the team's Hall of Famers in attendance.

"Unfortunately, the way this game works, you don't know if you're going to have another one here," Lynn said. "So I took it all in and enjoyed it. I've loved my time here, and hopefully, I have a lot more of it. But if that's my last Opening Day as a Cardinal, I took it all in."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.