Cardinals Extend Matt Carpenter

USATSI_7519443The Cardinals have signed Matt Carpenter to a six-year, $52MM extension, locking up their star infielder through his age-33 season. The contract breakdown is as follows: Carpenter will receive a $1.5MM signing bonus, $1MM in 2014, and then salaries of $3.5MM, $6.25MM, $9.75MM, $13.5MM and $14.5MM. In 2020, the Cardinals will have an $18.5MM option on his services, with a $2MM buyout. The Cardinals announced the signing at a 10:00am press conference. Carpenter is represented by SSG Baseball.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Carpenter and the Cardinals were close to an extension that could be worth $50MM-$55MM. Carpenter does not become arbitration-eligible until next offseason and is not eligible for free agency after 2017. Carpenter got a late start on his MLB career, not emerging as a semi-regular player until 2012, when he was 26. That means that, even without an extension, he wouldn't be eligible for free agency until shortly before his 32nd birthday. For the Cardinals, signing Carpenter to an extension now may allow them to control Carpenter for two seasons beyond that, while keeping his arbitration-year salaries manageable. For Carpenter, an extension guarantees him at least one big payday.

Carpenter is coming off a banner season in which he hit .318/.392/.481 and posted 7.0 WAR as the Cardinals' regular second baseman. Carpenter also finished fourth in NL MVP voting, and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that Carpenter's contract comes in a bit above that of the $51.5MM extension first-place finisher Andrew McCutchen signed prior to the 2012 season, when he too had between two and three years of service time. Carpenter's extension also comes one year to the day after the Cardinals signed Allen Craig for five years and $31MM; Craig also had between two and three years' service at the time of his deal.

Carpenter will shift to third for the coming season as the Cardinals make way for Kolten Wong at second. The Cardinals traded David Freese to the Angels this offseason in a bid to upgrade their defense, clearing a spot at the hot corner for Carpenter.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch originally tweeted that Carpenter and the Cardinals had agreed to a deal. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the deal was for $52MM. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to tweet the year-to-year breakdown of the contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

64 Responses to Cardinals Extend Matt Carpenter Leave a Reply

  1. David Ellinwood 1 year ago

    BABIP of .359 rewarded with an extension. Do you feel lucky, Cardinals?

    • Tigers72 1 year ago

      Could that be because if a big line drive rate. Cabreras must be really high and that is just because he is a great hitter. He is not as good as miggy but that might not be high for him.

      • David Ellinwood 1 year ago

        His LD% in 2013 was 27%, well above the league average of 21.3%, so I supposed that may bode well for the Cards. My point is that the Cardinals are awarding a player a multi-year extension who has put together one very good season, and that his stats bear the earmarks of a statistical anomaly. It seems likely that his numbers are due for a regression to the mean.

        • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

          Even then he is still probably worth 9mil. That’s assuming its a flat even rate over 6 years….if its back loaded the end of the deal might not be so great. I agree he is likely to regress, but how much?

          • fishy55 1 year ago

            In no way does backloading a contract make a deal worse for any business-savvy organization.. which includes all MLB teams (well except maybe the Marlins). Not paying Carp the full 9 million in the first part of the contract is essentially giving the Cards an interest free loan until they’re paying him over 9mil in a season. The ONLY exception to this would be if the higher salary in latter years pushes them over the luxury tax limit…which the Cards have never come close to and I seriously doubt that will change anytime soon.

          • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

            No but for trade reasons it is a problem. Not saying it will ever happen, but if it does it will make a big difference.

          • fishy55 1 year ago

            Not really….if we trade him in 4 years, we would have saved money to give to the other team to help pay his salary

          • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

            Try trading a guy making 14mil that’s worth 8mil. I’m sure you will run into some problems with your return from the other team. Backloading a contract from a baseball standpoint creates problems.

          • Jeffy25 1 year ago

            Only way he is worth 8 million is if he forgets how to hit and becomes a 2 war player.

            That’s not happening (barring injuries)

            What he said is true.

            If he’s worth 8 million, making 14, cards saved enough money to give the trading team 6 million to take him.
            You always backload if you can help it. It’s an interest free loan.

          • fishy55 1 year ago

            I’m so glad someone else understands this

          • Metsfan93 1 year ago

            The only reason you don’t backload it is if you have a lot of salary in the short term and less financial room in later years because of other players having escalated salaries, a la the Cardinals right now when they frontloaded Peralta’s deal.

          • Christian camlin 1 year ago

            You must remember that what looks pricy now may seem like Chump change in 2018-19.

          • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

            For the same if baseball I hope not.

          • Karkat 1 year ago

            Luxury tax is calculated using average annual value, so that part is the same regardless of how it’s structured.

          • msg333 1 year ago

            fishy’s point was IF a team is going to go over the luxury tax cutoff, they’re better off paying a player a front loaded contract with the same present value (ie, fewer nominal dollars) instead of a backloaded deal.

            Average annual value for luxury tax purposes will be lower, meaning less tax is owed even though the value of the contract paid to the player is the same.

          • fishy55 1 year ago

            I’d like to think this was my point but no…I genuinely thought luxury tax was based on player payroll for a particular year. Did not know it was based on AAV of the contract
            I have learned something new

          • fishy55 1 year ago

            Huh. Did not know that. Even more reasons for backloading. Thanks for the info

          • Jeffy25 1 year ago

            Xbabip shows he earned a slash line last year of .300/.380/.460

            That’s his deserving slash line, and hell probably improve his k/bb rate.

            He is mark grace who can play decent second and third base.

            Regression isn’t as eminent as people believe.

        • PaperLions 1 year ago

          No they don’t bear that mark….if you place last year’s performance within his career context, they were not out of line with expectations….and they aren’t offering him a deal that will pay him like he’s a 7 WAR player, they are offering him a deal that is closer to what a 3-4 WAR player would get.

        • jibbers 1 year ago

          He could regress to a pretty low mean and still be a bargain at this price. Last year, with his elevated BABIP, he was one of the top 10 players in baseball. The Cardinals aren’t paying him to be anywhere close to that again.

          • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

            Top 10 player in the MLB? The list of players I would take over Carpenter last year is way longer than 10.

          • jibbers 1 year ago

            Well by fWAR he was the 6th best player in baseball. By bWAR he was 14th best (9th best position player). You might be underrating the season Carpenter had: 700+ PAs of .320/.390/.480 in a pitchers park playing solid defense at a premium position.

          • Matt Mccarron 1 year ago

            Just saying, alot of people don’t use WAR. As a power hitter, far more people are better then him. AVG, same thing. Anyone can score 120 runs atop a loaded lineup such as St. Louis’. His AB/HIT total is impressive. Hes not a Top 10 player, however could be at some point.

          • Mil8Ball 1 year ago

            He would for sure be in the conversation for one of the better 2nd basemen in the MLB, but one of the best players period?….that’s a bit of a stretch. I’m also not a fan of WAR when we start talking about 5+WAR players. At that point you should be looking at other things.

    • Kendall Adkins 1 year ago

      BABIP is about as useful as the pitching W. Both are decent indicators, but really mean nothing without other information. You could smoke 10 line drives right at the right fielder and your BABIP would be .000.

      • malkusm 1 year ago

        Right, and people would say that you were unlucky. That’s kind of the whole point of BABIP.

        • Kendall Adkins 1 year ago

          I understand that line of thinking, I just don’t agree with it. The stat by itself means absolutely nothing.

      • Jeffy25 1 year ago

        Babip can only be used when you understand how it works.

        Learn the players contact rates and find their deserving babips

    • PaperLions 1 year ago

      Gee, I don’t know. Do you think the Reds were feeling Lucky signing Votto and his career .359 BABIP? How about the Yankees and Jeter’s .353 BABIP? Guys that always hit the ball hard can maintain such numbers. Such a BABIP from Carpenter isn’t out of line with his batted ball profile or his numbers in the minors or in 2012 when he had a .346 BABIP in the majors.

      • David Ellinwood 1 year ago

        His BABIP was only .333 in his full season at AAA. I understand what you’re saying, but notice that you’re using guys like Votto, Jeter, and Miguel Cabrera as points of comparison. Do you honestly believe Matt Carpenter belongs in the discussion with those guys?

        • PaperLions 1 year ago

          What I am saying is that while he may not be true .359 BABIP hitter, his entire history suggests that he will be a far above average BABIP hitter…having never had a BABIP lower than .331 at any level above A+, including 2 years in the Majors. Might also consider that these are his OBPs since AA: .412 (AA), .419 (AAA), .365 (MLB), and .392 (MLB)

          Of all of the organizations that could be criticized for ignoring possible luck associated with batted balls, the Cardinals would be near the back of that line.

          He gets on base, he hits the ball hard, he plays solid 2B and 3B, and he wears no batting gloves…what is not to like? A deal that takes him through his age 33 season with an AAV around $10M will be a steal in this market.

          • David Ellinwood 1 year ago

            Hmm. Can’t argue about the price. And you’re right, the Cardinals in recent history haven’t made many ignorant deals that I can think of. If he produces to the tune of .280/.375/.475, (which is somewhat reasonable) he’ll be a bargain for sure. I just wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a precipitous drop due to the fact that he has limited major league experience, broke into the league a little older than most guys do, and has benefited from good fortune with balls in play – more so in 2012 than 2013, when his BABIP was still very high but his LD% and GB% were much closer to league average.

        • Homeruntrot 1 year ago

          He didn’t get paid like one of those guys, which proves his whole argument. This is a good deal for the cardinals.

  2. Mil8Ball 1 year ago

    18.5 million dollar option!?

    Anyone want to bet that isn’t picked up? Cause I’m going with NO.

    • jibbers 1 year ago

      Actually I wouldn’t be surprised. The way salaries are inflating in 2020 it might very well cost $8-9M to buy a win on the free agent market. With the $2M buyout, he’d only need to be worth $16.5M (i.e. ~2 WAR). He’ll be 34 that year so he’ll certainly be past his prime, but he could very easily still be a 2-3 WAR player, giving the Cardinals surplus value on that option.

      • Metsfan93 1 year ago

        I would be happy if it’s only 8 MM for a win by 2020. It’s already supposedly 6-7 MM and that’s a 2-3 MM increase from only a few years ago.

    • Matt Mccarron 1 year ago

      Do you realize how loaded MLB teams are? Choo got 130M. 10 years ago that would be a contract for the best player in MLB. Now its going to a platoon outfielder. 18.5M is an average player by 2020. People talk about Trout getting 40M a year.

  3. CardsFanInChitown2 1 year ago

    Patrick Wisdom is the only loser in this deal!

  4. Matt Mccarron 1 year ago

    Bad deal for Carpenter, you signed just long enough that you can’t get a big contract at around ur 29-30. Good deal for the Cardinals. I’m not a fan of giving 50M+ to someone with only 2 good years, even if they are at the quality of his.

  5. stl_cards16 1 year ago

    Carpenter wouldn’t have been a Free-Agent until he was 32. There’s good chance he would have never got a big multi-year deal

    • Matt Mccarron 1 year ago

      Oh, his MLB clock started late. Didn’t know he didn’t debut until his age 25 season. You’re right.

  6. jibbers 1 year ago

    I honestly thought this was a joke post until I got to the last sentence. “Not everyone uses WAR, therefore I’m only going to look at batting average and power to conclude definitively that he wasn’t a top 10 player”. Since you’re so fond of AVG and SLG though, do you know how many players in baseball scored higher than him in both of those statistics? 4. Trout, Cabrera, Cuddyer and Freeman.

  7. raffish 1 year ago

    Looks like a good deal for both sides. Sometimes I wish I was a Cardinals fan.

  8. Jimbo504 1 year ago

    wish it wasn’t so backloaded, but I guess Holliday and Peralta will be off the books when it gets expensive those last 2 years. I don’t see that option getting picked up. I love Carp though, happy he will be around for a while.

    • Lanidrac 1 year ago

      Of course it’s backloaded! It’s buying out his remaining years of team control before he gets the big payday for the two free agent years. I agree with you on the option year, though, as I doubt he’ll be worth $18.5M when he’s 35.

  9. EndlessMikeJr 1 year ago

    The Cardnials have a good farm but with position players they are always injured and have not played great for multiple years.

    • Jeffy25 1 year ago


      What are you talking about?

    • WillGio 1 year ago

      Jaime Garcia is the only one who fits that description. Craig’s arent reoccurring, Yadi is pretty much always healthy, so who else?

    • Metsfan93 1 year ago

      The Cardinals have produced, from their farm, Freese, Adams, Carpenter, Jay, Craig, and Molina in the last few years and have Kolten Wong and Oscar Tavares right there. Freese produced one excellent season, postseason heroics, and an upgrade for cheap, while the other five have had various levels of success and even MVP-level seasons in some cases. What do you mean their homegrown players haven’t had success?

  10. dave 1 year ago

    Carpenter Wahca Miller Wong Holliday all traded to the Los Angeles Angels FOR Alberto Pujols

  11. Nathan Boley 1 year ago

    Meh, this isn’t that great of a deal. How much money/years did they lock up on the left side of their infield this offseason? All for Carpenter, who is a good player but only had one breakout season with a high BABIP and hasn’t proven he can hit for consistent power, and Peralta, who is poor defensively and coming off a PED suspension.

    Don’t think I’m saying this because I’m a Pirates fan. The Cardinals are the best run organization in baseball, if not all of sports. I would just have second thoughts about committing to Carpenter and Peralta for half their infield for several years.

    • Metsfan93 1 year ago

      Carpenter is coming off a season with a 4th place NL MVP finish, leading the league in runs, hitting .318/.392/.481 with a 147 wRC+ and 7 fWAR. That’s not just a breakout; that’s a superstar season. He had a high BABIP for sure at .359, but he BABIPed .346 in 2012’s 340 PA at the MLB level and BABIPed .318 and .377 in the minors in 2010 and .331 in 2011 in the minors. This isn’t a guy who’s never BABIPed high before. Over his nearly 1100 PA in the majors now he has a .351 BABIP.

      This isn’t a man who has been a bad player before 2013. He broke out older than some, had a 19-PA cup of coffee in 2011, put up 340 PA of 126 wRC+ baseball as a rookie in 2012 then dominated in 2013 when given a full season. He’s a great player.

      All four of fangraphs’ projection systems expect something in the range of 3.5-5 WAR with a BABIP between .310 and .340 and almost exactly a .140 ISO (.139, .141, .142, .142 for the four). ZiPS is projecting a modest hike in strikeouts, and thus ‘only’ a 116 wRC+ but Steamers, Oliver, and the fans have him around a 125-130 wRC+..

      I think you just severely underrate how good Matt Carpenter is and should continue to be. He’s not quite Pedroia/Cano level at second, but I’d consider him the third best second baseman in the game had he stayed there. Now he’s probably behind just Wright, Longoria, Beltre, Machado over at third and around the level of Zimmerman, unless I’m forgetting someone obvious.

      • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

        You definitely make a compelling argument. I would probably put Donaldson ahead of Carpenter though. I guess I’m just curious to see if he can do it two full seasons in a row. If he can, the Cards got away with a McCutchen-like steal. If not, it’s a bad deal.

        I’m more worried about Peralta than Carpenter. Peralta plays shoddy defense and had his best year in 2013 (2011 was solid as well, to be fair). I was surprised when they gave him the money they did, and I still think that’ll end up being a poor deal.

        • Metsfan93 1 year ago

          McCutchen-like steal and bad deal aren’t the only possibilities. He could also regress to the point it’s a fair deal. If he’s a 4-5 win player then it’s not McCutchen-like (he might have the best contract in MLB) but it could still be a great deal for St. Louis. More importantly, the Cardinals don’t have many super-long term commitments and basically locked in Carpenter’s prime for a cost-controlled amount. Guys with 7-win seasons on their resume don’t come around every day. It’s a good deal for St. Louis unless the wheels fall off completely, he forgets how to get on base, and he can’t hack it at third. I don’t foresee that happening, though. Carpenter doesn’t strike out a ton, hits for that aforementioned modest ~.140 ISO, hits for AVE, walks an acceptable amount and plays solid defense at a solid position. He’s well-rounded, which should prevent the wheels from falling off completely.

        • Metsfan93 1 year ago

          Also, I don’t see how you can differentiate Donaldson from Carpenter. Donaldson had a slightly better 2013, but has less of a track record (MiLB & MLB) pre-2013. They’re in the same ballpark as far as I’m concerned.

  12. Skidog 1 year ago

    Exactly how many times do the Cardinals have to prove they know more about their own players than those of us who have nothing to do with professional baseball? Cracks me up to no end. Someone even said down in the comments that the Cards may be the best run organization in sports but still questioned their choice to lock up Carpenter and sign JP. Well, maybe neither will pan out but as far as I’m concerned the Cards get the benefit of the doubt.

    • Spit Ball 1 year ago

      Totally agree, way worth it or so it would seem given what Carpenter has done. If they were not sold on Peralta’s ability to man Short successfully for the next four years, neither of these deals are made. The Cardinals developmental and scouting system is second to none.

    • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

      That was me, and I always give the Cards the benefit of the doubt with how well their they’ve developed their team. I just think signing Peralta was a bit unusual for a team that prides itself on homegrown talent, even if their middle infield prospects are fairly barren. Add in how much they paid for him, his PED suspension and the fact that Drew is still on the market and will sign for much less, you have to wonder if the Cards made the right move by pulling the trigger early.

      Carpenter is a good player but this is a lot of money for a guy who’s getting paid like he’s Pedroia but is essentially a poor man version’s of Pedroia. If he develops some power and keeps a high BABIP, it’ll look good. If not, eh.

      They’ve definitely locked themselves in here for the foreseeable future. I’m sure that if neither of these deals work out though, the Cards will draft a guy in the 45th round from some community college who has played baseball for three months. He’ll hit .320 with 40 HRs and win a Gold Glove, because that’s what happens when you’re the Cards.

      • Metsfan93 1 year ago

        Getting paid like he’s Pedroia? Pedroia is one of the few superstars who has consistently given his team a massive discount on contracts. Pedroia is underpaid. Just because Carpenter is paid like Pedroia doesn’t mean his contract is poor at all. Pedroia will end up making something like 140 MM over thirteen years from 2009 to 2021, a massive discount relative to how amazing of a player he is. Carpenter is a great player with skills that shouldn’t regress much over the life of this contract. It’s a phenomenal deal for the Cards, IMO.

  13. B Fritz 1 year ago

    Why are people saying he will regress over 6 years. He’s not even to his prime yet

  14. B Fritz 1 year ago

    Why are people saying he will regress over 6 years. He’s not even to his prime yet

  15. Lanidrac 1 year ago

    I have mixed feelings about this extension. On one hand, I’d have liked to see him prove this wasn’t some fluke career year like Ryan Ludwick before signing him long-term. On the other hand, if we had waited a year and it’s not a fluke, the price would’ve gone up drastically.

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