With his family in the front row, management seated to his side and teammates watching from the corner, Adam Wainwright stood behind a podium and first offered a warning.

"I'm going to try to get through this without crying," he said. "But it may be tough."

On a day when the Cardinals announced they had signed the 31-year-old right-hander to an extension that will keep him in St. Louis through the 2018 season, the magnitude of the moment and the appreciation for all who had helped along the way were enough to force Wainwright to pause several times during his remarks.

Wainwright couldn't hide his emotion, choking up as he talked about teammates, past and present, as well as family, faith and future. He called up his daughters at one point, noting that he needed a hug.

"I feel like my heart is in St. Louis," said Wainwright, who made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2005. "I love it there. I love driving to the field, seeing the arch, driving up and seeing Busch Stadium. It's a treat to work there every day and is something that continues to catch me off-guard. It makes me feel like I am way too blessed, more than I deserve.

"Usually, I'm not at a loss for words. But the city of St. Louis means so much to me that it's taking me a little bit to get it out."

Thursday morning's press conference was the culmination of about two months of negotiations between the Cardinals and Wainwright's agent, Steve Hammond, on a deal that will keep Wainwright out of the free-agent market next winter. The two sides settled on a five-year extension -- set to kick in after Wainwright makes $12 million this season -- in order to ensure Wainwright's long-term presence in the rotation.

The deal is worth $97.5 million, making it the largest for a pitcher in franchise history, surpassing Chris Carpenter's five-year, $63.5 million extension signed in 2006.

General manager John Mozeliak estimated that that the two sides agreed on the financial terms and length of the contract about four or five days ago, the rest of the details were then finalized this week. Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. described the negotiations as "hard," but also critical in order to keep Wainwright from landing on the free-agent market next offseason.