Chris Carpenter’s 2012 Option

You can’t obtain elite free agent pitching for $15MM. Recent history suggests you can sign a middle-of-the-rotation starter – think Carl Pavano, Jake Westbrook, Jason Marquis and Joel Pineiro – or a middle reliever – think Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Joaquin Benoit or Brandon Lyon.

Chris Carpenter

The Cardinals face a major decision this offseason, when they have to choose between their $15MM option for Chris Carpenter and a $1MM buyout. It won’t be the most important decision they make this winter (the Albert Pujols contract talks deserve that honor) or even the most important decision they make with respect to their rotation (the Cards have to decide on two options for Adam Wainwright), but it will still shape the 2012 team. 

Carpenter turns 37 in April, so the former Cy Young winner is no longer in his prime. His ground ball rate dipped below 50% for the first time since 2002 this year and his 3.53 ERA is not that far off of the league average (3.85), even after an excellent Monday night outing.

But Carpenter's average fastball velocity has trended upward this year, rising from 91.4 mph to 92.5 mph, and his strikeout (7.2 K/9) and walk (2.2 BB/9) rates have improved as well. Defense independent pitching stats like xFIP (3.32) and SIERA (3.45) suggest Carpenter is far from finished (those figures don't include tonight's strong start).

He’s comfortably within Type A range according to our current projections, so the Cardinals could obtain two top picks if they decline his option and offer arbitration only to see him decline and sign a Major League deal elsewhere. Draft pick compensation figures to be a consideration for St. Louis, but it won't necessarily be the driving factor in the Cardinals' decision, especially since other teams might balk at the idea of giving up a first round pick for a 36-year-old with a history of arm trouble. 

The Cardinals’ 2012 rotation will presumably feature Wainwright and Jaime Garcia along with Westbrook, Kyle Lohse and one other starter. Edwin Jackson is a free agent, Wainwright will be returning from Tommy John surgery, Kyle McClellan has pitched better out of the bullpen and top prospects Carlos Martinez and the currently suspended Shelby Miller may not be ready for the show. In other words, the Cards could use rotation depth for 2012. 

Retaining Carpenter’s services for an extra $14MM (they’re paying $1MM no matter what) would be a luxury given the presence of McClellan, Martinez and Miller. But the Cardinals extended their payroll over $100MM this season and they appear poised to contend again in 2012. Carpenter may well be a luxury on whom GM John Mozeliak is prepared spend.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

64 Responses to Chris Carpenter’s 2012 Option Leave a Reply

  1. start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

    I tend to figure it this way, one way or another they’re picking up that option. Even if they don’t see him in their rotation in 2012 the Cards could probably get a decent trade value for Carpenter during the winter meetings.

    • cubsfan97 4 years ago

      If and when the Yankees fall short in the post season, Id be calling them up and asking what they would offer for him. 

      • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

        I wouldn’t be shocked to see the line start right behind the yanks and Red Sox. I think a lot of team would see him as a great option for 2012.

  2. Troutman 4 years ago

    If the cards decline his option and don offer arb I’d love to see the jays sign him on. A 1 year deal to provide some leadership to our young staff

    • grownice 4 years ago

       Itll never happen, and he’ll most likely get more then a 1 year deal.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

       why wouldn’t they offer him arbitration?

    • Ferrariman 4 years ago

      he’s a pitcher, not a baby sitter.  he’s gonna wanna get paid what he’s worth, and unless he’s getting 25million for that year, he’s not taking a one year deal.

    • Rashad Bruce 4 years ago

      thats stupid

  3. I think they decline the option and see if he’ll take less. If Carpenter likes the Cardinals he’ll take a discount so the team can try to resign Albert. Maybe they can sign him to a 2 year 20 million extension in the postseason that voids the option

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

       The 5 Million they would be saving next year, is about 1.6% of the total of Alberts supposed asking price..

  4. bigpat 4 years ago

    Something has to give this season with Carp, Wainwright, Berkman, and Pujols all FA’s. I still think everyone but Berkman will stay and they will somehow find a way to make the money work. They got a ton out of Berkman this season but he’s probably priced himself out of their range with this kind of season and should get one more big payday despite his age since he can play in the outfield or first. 

    • cubsfan97 4 years ago

      I dont think he gets too big of a payday.  Id say 3 years 35-40 million.  He wont sign anything long term.  If he likes St. Louis, he may stay for 3 years and 30 million.

  5. kurtis2461 4 years ago

    Cards must pick up Carp’s option because they can’t replace him.  Wainwright may not be ready for ST and besides Jaime Garcia, the rest of the starting staff is mediocre at best.  Their bullpen is a mess.   They don’t need more problems.

    If they lose Pujols, and there’s a good chance of that happening, they can’t afford to lose  Berkman too, as losing both would be too much of a power vacuum to overcome in 2012. 

    • Wainwrights_Curveball 4 years ago

      I have no problem with us “losing” Berkman. For the kind of season that he is having this year, I think we can go ahead and rule him out of our budget. Trying to keep him would be foolish anyway, given the Pujols negotiations and especially considering how much of defensive liability he has been this season in RF.

      Someone else can overpay him for his bounceback year.

      • kurtis2461 4 years ago

         OK, who do you have replacing Berkman?  Do you know this is a normal year for Berkman?  Check his stats.  2010 was his 1st and only ‘off’ year in his career.

        • Allen Craig

          • Redbirds16 4 years ago

            Use the $10 million saved from Berkman to Craig to get some MI help/signing Pujols. Non-tendering Skip would also save a couple million (Like the Reds did with Jhonny Gomes last season). Extending Carp on a 3 year, 30 million ($12MM, $10MM, $8MM) deal might not be bad (ages 37-39 seasons). 

            The Cards can make things work if they get creative.

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago

            Creativity got the Cards Lohse, Westbrook, Jackson, Dotel, Rhodes, Furcal, Punto, Greene.  Creativity lost Rasmus and Chris Perez (groan).   I love Carp but not for 3 more years.  Mo needs to stop trading/picking up mediocre players.  With all these raggedy players clotting up the roster/payroll, where are we going to find the $30M per year to pay Albert?

          • Jeffy25 4 years ago

            Well, you only need like 10-15, since Albert is already making 14 (pre deferred)

            Our Gm in st. Louis is really bad, but he can redeem himself w a nice off-season

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago

            Are you Pujols financial advisor?  If so, I don’t want you to handle my money.  But I do agree with you, in that Mo must go.  He’s the one who got us into this situation in the first place.  He should’ve extended Albert’s contract years ago but instead he spent the money on lesser players who haven’t delivered.

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago


          • Vossome93 4 years ago

            Ummmm. Yeah….What’s wrong with Craig?

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago

            Do you really believe Craig will be able to duplicate Berkman’s numbers?  While Craig’s numbers look good in limited play and he’s show power in the minors, he doesn’t strike me as game changer like Berkman (and Ryan Ludwick) has been.

          • He doesn’t have to duplicate Berkman’s numbers to be productive.  The Cards could be smart for once and upgrade at multiple positions as well rather than depending on three players to carry the offense day in and day out all season long.

            And  You obviously have not seen him play on a consistent basis.  TLR does anything he possibly can to get his bat in the lineup.  If he was handed the RF job next spring and managed to stay healthy the entire season I would be surprised if he didn’t put up close to .270/20/70 and that is a very conservative estimate

          • BadBadLeroyBrown 4 years ago

            Craig seems injury prone, plus after trading away Rasmus the OF depth is no the same especially if they let berkman walk.

          • I don’t believe Berkman is going to be an outfielder next season.  He has handled himself out there this year but only because his offense has made up for his defensive shortcomings.

            He is a first baseman going forward and its hard to see a team trusting him as anything but that going forward, especially if he gets any multi-year offers 

          • And I don’t see him as injury prone.  His knee injury was a freak incident brought upon by hustle and a late slide into a fence, and those normally don’t move so going forward its hard to put any substance into any injury questions.

            The cards have a number of fringe outfield prospects at AAA so I don’t see their depth as extremely weak. Adron Chambers is going to get a chance to show off his speed in September, Andrew Brown showed off his skill set to some degree in his brief stint with the club, and Shane Robinson has an excellent glove

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago

            So how are you going to make up for this lost production?  The mediocre pitching staff can hardly afford less runs.  If you go without Berkman, that makes 2 OF positions left in a very weak state.   Add it to the uncertainly in the middle IF and you have a recipe for a disaster of epic proportions.

          • Thats why I was advocating for an upgrade in the middle infield.  Be it at SS, 2B or both the Cards can upgrade their offensive and defensive production and add a dynamic to their team that they have lacked since the middle years of this decade.  A defensive upgrade at those positions alone will save the pitching staff pitches, innings, runs, ect.

            I don’t deny that losing Berkman’s production would be substantial, but I am apparently in the minority that believes he won’t produce as he has this year from an outfield position going forward.

            Craig offers a younger MUCH cheaper alternative that can produce at multiple spots in the lineup.  By saving that money and hopefully saving money from outbidding themselves on Pujols then the Cards could significantly upgrade up the middle where championships are won. 

            Descalso should open the season next year as the starting second baseman IMO leaving that much more money for say a return of Furcal or other options

            They have a lot on their plate come october, if only that meant the Phillies

  6. They should just give it to him for YEARS of him taking a home town discount to stay there. Besides, what are they gonna do with that money? Give it to me?? I can’t even believe this is even a question, PAY THE MAN!

    • Crucisnh 4 years ago

      What are they going to do with that money?  Are you SERIOUSLY asking that? 

      #1 Use it to pay Pujols to stay.

      #2 Use it to sign Berkmann to be plan B at 1B, if Pujols leaves.

      #3 Use if to sign Fielder as plan C if Pujols and Berkmann leave.

      So perhaps after those options are exhausted, then they might consider paying Carpenter to stay.

  7. 92blueblood_la 4 years ago

    Somebody has go to from STL……… can’t afford everybody. most likely berk…..I wouldnt rule out carpenter, they have let a fan favorite go before in the past. Specially if they wanna pay Albert market value. Hopefully they keep carp nd lose Albert thatd be funny I hate cards

    • kurtis2461 4 years ago

      Do you really honestly believe the Cards will sign Albert?

      • Crucisnh 4 years ago

        I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea that Pujols would end up staying with the Cards.  That article that Tim Dierkes wrote about the teams that probably wouldn’t be interested in Fielder is just as true for Pujols.  There are a number of without a need for an elite 1B-man, particularly the big money teams, the Yanks, Red Sox, and Phillies.  The number of teams that have a need for a top 1B-man plus the resources to sign either Fielder or Pujols is going to be limited.  And I think that Prince and Albert may find that the numbers that their agents may have put in their head may simply not be there for them, in large part due to the lack of the big money clubs not being in the 1B-sweepstakes and driving up the market for them.

        • kurtis2461 4 years ago

          There will always be a market for the best player in baseball.

          • Crucisnh 4 years ago

            Sorry, kurtis, but that’s entirely too simplistic.  The question isn’t whether there’ll be someone that needs a 1B.  It’s more about whether there’s going to be any teams that will pony up the kind of money that Pujols wants.  I don’t see any of the teams needing a 1B-man paying Pujols the kind of money he wants, i.e. close to $30M/yr.  It may happen, but I just don’t see it.

          • kurtis2461 4 years ago

            Yes, my answer is simple, direct and truthful.  And it says everything that needs to said about Albert.  You’re making it more complicated that it need to be.

            The rich clubs will always have to money to spend (or throw away as has been the case in many instances).  Look at the Yankees.  Jeter is at the end of his career and they need to replace him as their symbol.  There is no one better than Pujols, on and off the field.

            For the Red Sox it’s not a matter of whether they really need Pujols; it’s a matter of stopping the Yankees from getting him and shifting the balance of power in their favor for the next 5-10 years.

            The Angels just tied up Jered Weaver.  Now here’s a team that needs Albert both on and off the field.  Owner Arturo Moreno has been pursuing the Spanish market ever since he bought the Angels, so what better symbol could he possibly get than Pujols?

            So this bring us back to St. Louis, where management and ownership will get tarred and feathered if they allow Albert to leave town.

            One dimensional (in more ways than one) Fielder does not have the appeal that Albert has, hence their pursuit will drive up his price $30M plus very quickly.

            There, Crucisnh.  I hope you’re still around to read this lengthy rebuttal.

          • Crucisnh 4 years ago

            kurtis, I wasn’t around, but I do get email replies thru disqus.  :)  So I’m here now!

            There’s nothing wrong with simple.  But simplistic can often be another thing.

            I’m sorry, but I think that you’re making some bad assumptions.  The Yanks and Red Sox already have elite 1B-men locked up long term in Teixiera and A.Gonzalez.  And neither team is likely to spend the kind of money it’d take to sign Pujols as a DH, assuming that he’d be willing to be a DH in the first place.

            OTOH, you could be correct about the Angels.  However, the Angels’ owner has not shown all that much willingness to spend freely on free agents.  I will concede that Pujols could cause Artie Moreno to crack open the team’s wallet though. 

            I also suspect that you’re correct about Pujols and St.Louis.  Personally, I’d like him to remain with the Cards.  A.  He’s a Cardinal and should remain there.  B. As a Red Sox fan, I’d be happy to see him stay in the NL.  😉

            I’ll agree that Pujols does seem to have a broader appeal than Fielder.  The one thing that Fielder has in his favor is that he’s, IIRC, 4 years younger.

      • 92blueblood_la 4 years ago

        I’m actually pretty torn about it. My guess is 60% chance big al leaves STL…….. I think the cards can keep him frm hitting FA *IF THEY WANT TO* question is will they break up the team in order to do so……….. im not going to pretend I know if Albert is leaving or not. But I do think if he makes it past the cards exclusive negotiating window after the season……. that hes a goner……

    • Rashad Bruce 4 years ago

      well they hate u more jackass

  8. stewie75 4 years ago

    Cubs will take him in a heartbeat… 2/$32M? Yes please.

  9. Jeffy25 4 years ago

    Personally, I would be looking to see if they can negotiate a two year deal, like the previous poster said (that’s actually exactly what I have been suggesting my Cards forum).

    But he’ll probably want a little more. 

    Honestly, I’m not afraid of the draft picks, but I do like what Carpenter brings….I just don’t think he can possibly be expected to continue to pitch like this forever.  He has improved this season over last though, and has pitched far better than people realize.

  10. Cards have a lot of B prospect pitching arms in the minors, should be a healthy competition for ST, they aren’t this limited.

  11. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    I have no idea why people aren’t sure if they will pick up Wainwright’s options.  They will be picked up.

  12. nebelski 4 years ago

    Despite his minor drop-off in numbers, Carpenter is still a great pitcher.  His poise, confidence, and advanced knowledge of pitching are worth the $14M.  I can’t see St. Louis turning that option down. 

  13. diehardmets 4 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rzepczynski (I think I spelled that right) get a shot at returning to starting. For those that don’t know, Rzep came over from the Blue Jays in the Rasmus deal and is currently having a great season as a reliever.

  14. Guest 4 years ago

    What if they picked his option up and traded him for younger, cheaper pitchers? The Rangers would be an obvious fit in this case. Something like Harrison, Scheppers and a third B-C caliber piece?

    Harrison plugs right into the fifth spot in the rotation behind Wainwright, Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook (but has the potential to be much more than a 5th rotation guy). And Scheppers could hit the bullpen and be the future closer. And they save about $12-13 mil to throw towards Pujols and maybe Berkman

    • jmits90 4 years ago

      Damm I didn’t know the John Mozeliak had dirty pictures of Jon Daniels… Seriously why would Texas do that there adding 13 million, getting older, and making a very marginal move.

      • Guest 4 years ago

        I never said they’re adding 13 million to the deal. I said STL is saving about 13 mil by shedding Carpenter’s salary for next year

        Not sure why it’s one sided. STL is getting value back for a guy they’ll probably have to let go anyway if they want to resign Pujols. And TX is getting the closest thing to an ace on the market this winter. Carpenter shouldn’t command a major return in a deal, but he shouldn’t require a pile of crap either

        • jmits90 4 years ago

          There shedding Carpenter salary so who do you think will pay it… I’m pretty sure Texas would if St. Louis doesn’t adding there payroll around 13 million. Carpenter would have to be worth 13 million more than Harrison next year for the deal to make sense for 2012, but when you take in the cheap cost controlled years for Harrison and you throw in Scheppers in makes the trade absolutely one-sided .

    • angryredmenace 4 years ago

      Stay off the crack buddy.I know it’s hot in Texas, but not enough for their brains to fry to the point of mental retardation.And I only thought fans of New York baseball clubs made such idiotically one sided trade proposals.

      • nictonjr 4 years ago

         Why would Carpenter want to go to Texas??  He’s in a perfect spot.  StL is an extreme pitchers park.  He’s still a 10/5 guy.  If the Cards pick up his option Carpenter decides if he gets traded or not.  Not the Cards…

        • Jeffy25 4 years ago

          I wouldn’t call it extreme. It’s literally as much a pitchers park as Milwaukee is a hitters park.

          But a sign and trade isn’t going to happen

    • Jeffy25 4 years ago

      The rangers aren’t stupid, and the cards Gm isn’t smart. No chance

  15. 0bsessions 4 years ago

    I can’t fathom why they wouldn’t pick up the option. It’s only one year and even if they go for broke and keep everyone else who’s a question, most teams would break budget for a single season if they had to if it means contending. As someone else noted, even if he doesn’t factor into their long term plans, $16 million is a very reasonable price for someone to take on for someone as consistent as Carpenter and if they were to eat a mere eight million of that in a trade (Assuming he waives 10-5 rights or any NTC he may have), they could get some solid value back (Better than anything they’d get as compensation). Consistent starting pitching is very hard to come by, especially when we know guys like Hernandez or Weaver won’t be hitting the trading block any time soon.

  16. kurtis2461 4 years ago

    The only way we retain Pujols is to pay him what he wants, for as long as he wants it.  He wants only whats due to him as the best player in baseball and that is fair.

    As much as it pains me to say it, we drop Carp, Berkman, Schumaker, Jackson, Theriot,  and everyone else on the verge of free agency.  Give away Lohse, Dotel, and Westbrook for some bats and balls if necessary to rebuild around Albert, Wainwright and Molina with the youngsters.  Holliday?  I get emotional over him like I do over a card board cutout. 

    Mo knows if Albert leaves, he’ll get run out of town on a rail.

    • BadBadLeroyBrown 4 years ago

      Your absolutely right about Pujols, Cards fans never boo their team.  But this could be the exception if they dont retain Pujols at all costs. 

  17. Eric Champion 4 years ago

    I don’t know if i missed it in the article or not but why is it not noted how Carpenter said he is open to renegotiating his contract instead of using the option?

  18. Carp has more heart & fire then Albert will ever have….. I don’t think most Cardinal fans care if AP stays or goes. He is kind of a cry baby. LOL

  19. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

     or a 1 year deal anywhere for that matter

  20. Redbirds16 4 years ago

    I wouldn’t go comparing Ottavino – a bust – to Carp, an ace. 
    Nor would I compare Cleto – a bullpen power righty. 
    Lance Lynn profiles as a #4 starter.

    The Cards’ depth in young, ace-ceiling starting pitchers, is still two years away.

  21. Crucisnh 4 years ago

    Perhaps because at his age, teams may be reluctant to give him anything more than a 1 year deal.

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