The Cardinals and ace Chris Carpenter have agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $21MM that will provide the right-hander with additional security and provide the Cardinals with a productive starter for two more seasons.
Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported the move on Sunday and the Cardinals have now announced it.
Carpenter, 36, was in the final guaranteed year of the five-year, $63.5MM deal he signed before the 2007 season. The team held a $15MM club option for his services next year, but Strauss says the option is rolled into a longer structure that saves the team about $4MM in 2012. This extension includes no appearance-based incentives or options either. Late last month, Ben Nicholson-Smith said Carpenter "may well be a luxury on whom GM John Mozeliak is prepared spend," and he certainly has. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted last week that the team would hammer out a new contract at a lower salary in advance of the November option decision.
Now four full years out from Tommy John surgery, Carpenter has pitched to a 3.75 ERA in 206 1/3 innings this season. Although his ground ball rate (45.6%) is the lowest it's ever been since he joined St. Louis, he does boast his highest strikeout rate (7.15 K/9) in five years as well as a strong walk rate (2.18 BB/9). The 2005 Cy Young Award winner's fastball velocity has jumped a tick as well.
Last month we heard that the Cardinals were expected to pick up Adam Wainwright's options for 2012 and 2013, while the right-hander recovers from his own Tommy John surgery. Carpenter's new deal gives Mozeliak one less thing to worry about in a winter that figures to be dominated by negotiations with Albert Pujols.