This Date In Transactions History: Chris Carpenter

On this date in 2002, the Blue Jays released their Opening Day starter, right-hander Chris Carpenter.  The 27-year-old was removed from the 40-man roster after a trying season in which he went just 73 1/3 innings before being shut down to undergo shoulder surgery.  He posted a 5.28 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in his final year in Toronto, but the former first-round pick had a stronger season in 2001 finishing with a 4.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 powered by a solid first-half of the year.  The Blue Jays did offer Carpenter an incentive-laden minor league deal to stay on board, but the hurler instead decided to try his luck on the open market.

The Cardinals, of course, would be the team to roll the dice on 6'6" right-hander.  Carpenter was signed to a deal with a club option for 2004 with the hope that he would be ready to return by the mid-season in 2003.  The club bought out his '04 season for $200K rather pay the him the $2MM he would have made, but the two sides were able to negotiate a new deal later on that winter.  The Cardinals were grateful that they did, as Carpenter returned in 2004 to register a 3.46 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 across 28 starts to help the Cards win the National League pennant.  That was a sign of great things to come as he would edge Dontrelle Willis for the Cy Young Award in 2005 and delivered an almost equally strong campaign in '06.

In his time with St. Louis, Carpenter's legacy has been one marked by quality pitching and frustrating injuries, but the resilient pitcher has always found a way to bounce back from his extended absences.  A torn labrum delayed his Cardinals debut, but he certainly managed to make it worth the wait.  Four years later, Tommy John surgery limited him to four starts across two seasons.  Tomorrow afternoon, Carpenter will take the mound against the Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS despite undergoing surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome which was supposed to sideline him all season long.  Despite his battles through multiple injuries, it's safe to say that the Blue Jays' decision ten years ago is one that they would like to have back.

21 Responses to This Date In Transactions History: Chris Carpenter Leave a Reply

  1. $22264602 3 years ago

    Just kick us while we’re down eh MLBTR? Cold Hearted…

  2. $17867741 3 years ago

    GM JPR. Worst GM ever. Moneyball for the sake of being cheap does not work.

    Easily set the Jays franchise back by 6 – 7 years.

    He should have just sent Carpenter to go through the same rehab Halladay went through; Mel Queen style.

    • Ted 3 years ago

      I won’t defend JP overall, but I cannot fault him for letting Carpenter walk. The guy was going to miss his age-28 season with major shoulder surgery and had thrown 870 innings of 4.83 ERA ball without showing signs of breaking out or improving his mediocre K/9, HR/9, or BB/9 numbers. Would you really, without hindsight, have offered him a multi-year deal?

      • $17867741 3 years ago

        I would have offered him a 3yr/$3m deal + 2 options + incentives

        1) Because he has a lot of untapped talent.
        2) It’s not like the Cardinals offered Carpenter anything better.
        3) Even after Carpenter won the Cy Young, he accepted a 2yr/$15m deal.
        4) If he does come back from injuries, then you want to keep him for a few more years.

        $3m in baseball terms is nothing. Blue Jays could have easily afforded it. If he doesn’t improve in 3 years, then dump him. I think this is the reason why the Blue Jays are so patient with McGowan.

        This part is academic, but I would have offered Carpenter a deal like this:

        2003: $0.5m. 2004: $1.0m, 2005: $1.0m, 2006: $5m, 2007: $5m

        *2006 and 2007 are options with $0.5m buyouts

        – 180 innings pitched in 2005, options boosts in value OR
        – with 320 innings pitched in 2004 – 2005, options boosts in value
        – if achieved, options are boosted by $2m.

        • Ted 3 years ago

          If that’s truly the case, then good for you. It would have been a heck of a move. I just… can’t help but be skeptical that you’d really have made the move in 2002. I mean, the guy stunk, and torn labrums aren’t in the same league as Tommy John surgery. I liked Carp, but I thought he was done.

          • Well said, Ted!

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            Here’s the way I see it. If you believe in the guy, you do what you can to keep him. I guess Toronto didn’t feel the same way that I did back in 2002. And it’s not like Carp made more money with the Cardinals in those years.

          • Ted 3 years ago

            It may also be relevant that in 2002, the Mike Sirotka injury was still very recent. Sirotka had just missed the entire 2001 season and faced retirement with a torn labrum, same as Carpenter, though Sirotka’s injury was more severe. It’s all history now… but that might have been a small factor leading the org to lose confidence Carpenter would be able to recover at all.

      • Jaysfan724 3 years ago

        Exactly, it’s like Pirates fan cursing their GM for trading Jose Bautista for Robinson Diaz. Everything is so much easier to judge in hindsight.

        I can only imagine how the many agitated Jays fans of today would have reacted if we gave someone with those numbers a multi-year contract. Many were even vocal with the McGowan deal.

    • johnsmith4 3 years ago

      It certainly was a bad move. But, I can’t agree JPR was just being cheap. Toronto was losing $20 mil a year in operational losses. It had to be fixed or the franchise would have relocated. In my opinion, JPR’s biggest fault was contract negotiation. A good contract negotiator would have signed Carpenter.

      • $17867741 3 years ago

        I remember a long time ago, I read an article that the Blue Jays were raking in $20m in revenue sharing, back when revenue sharing was still a new concept. I can’t guarantee the accuracy of my numbers though.

        However, this is a much more recent article:
        “But the five neediest teams — which we believe to be the Marlins, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays and Royals — averaged somewhere in the vicinity of $35 million in revenue-sharing handouts per team.”

        link to

        • johnsmith4 3 years ago

          I don’t doubt it. However, I have been referencing operational incomes figures from Forbes write ups on baseball franchises. Interesting stuff.

  3. soxfan123123 3 years ago

    Dave Duncan at his finest!

  4. Runtime 3 years ago

    and THIS is why the Jays refuse to give up on McGowan.

    • $22264602 3 years ago

      double post

    • $22264602 3 years ago

      Small price to pay so we don’t run into another Carpenter situation. At least for the time being.

    • That may be true in part…but Dustin McGowan really does have injury problems. Sometimes, things don’t work out; at the time, I can’t blame J.P. Riccardi for doing this.

  5. LayerCake 3 years ago

    Good read thanks Zach

  6. astrostl 3 years ago

    The surgery – which involved removing a rib – was supposed to take 6 months to recover, and it wasn’t clear that he’d be able to come back at all. He was pitching in the majors 2 months later, without any spring training.

    • Lanidrac 3 years ago

      Yeah, Carpenter’s had a Pujols-like recovery these past couple of months.

  7. Jonathan Washington 3 years ago

    Chris Carpenter Finally Got His Mind Back On Track

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