The Cardinals have locked up a key member of their lineup and one of their longest-tenured players, announcing on Wednesday the signing of infielder Matt Carpenter to a two-year contract extension spanning the 2020-21 seasons. Carpenter, a client of SSG Baseball, will reportedly earn $39MM on the new arrangement. He’d previously been signed through the end of the 2019 season with a club option for the 2020 campaign.
Carpenter will reportedly take home annual salaries of $18.5MM in 2020 and 2021, with a vesting option for the same amount triggering if he makes a combined 1100 plate appearances in 2020-21 (with at least 550 of those 1100 coming in 2021). If the option does not vest, it’ll function as a pure club option with a $2MM buyout. Carpenter will also pick up a no-trade provision for the 2020 season.
Carpenter, 33, is coming off of a stellar 2018 season in which he posted a hefty .257/.374/.523 slash line with a career-high 36 home runs. He has turned in well-above-average offensive work in every one of his seven full seasons in the majors. The new deal comes as Carpenter’s prior pact neared a conclusion. His early 2014 extension included a $14.5MM salary for the current season along with a $18.5MM club option ($2MM buyout) for 2020.
Carpenter joins newly acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in signing on for the foreseeable future. There’s risk in locking into two such corner pieces into their mid-thirties, but both are immensely productive hitters. With that duo now under control through the 2021 season at the very least, it seems that Carpenter will continue to hold down third base for the Cards for the foreseeable future. Carpenter has some experience at second base as well, but the Cards already have a premium defensive option at that position, Kolten Wong, under contract on a long-term deal of his own that runs through the 2020 season and contains a club option for 2021.
That $19.5MM annual value on the new contract won’t put the Cardinals near the luxury tax threshold but will boost the amount of money already committed to next year’s payroll to a hefty $147MM. Fortunately for the Cards, they’re likely ticketed for a small class of arbitration-eligible players, as only John Brebbia, Alex Reyes, John Gant and Dominic Leone are set to receive arbitration raises. Of that quartet, the first three will be eligible for the first time. The Cards will also face a $13MM option ($1MM buyout) on infielder Jedd Gyorko.
With Carpenter now locked into place, the Cardinals suddenly look to have nearly their entire 2020 lineup in house. Goldschmidt, Carpenter, Wong and Paul DeJong are all under contract for next season, as is franchise icon Yadier Molina. Harrison Bader has cemented himself as the team’s center fielder, and although Marcell Ozuna is slated to hit free agency, he’s expected to be replaced by Tyler O’Neill in 2020 and beyond. Dexter Fowler remains under contract through 2021 and figures to handle a corner position unless he struggles through a similarly nightmarish campaign to the one he experienced in 2018.
The Cardinals’ system has a few quality third base prospects, led by 2018 first-rounder Nolan Gorman, but most of the team’s talent in that regard is still multiple years from MLB readiness. It’s possible that Elehuris Montero could’ve been ready for a look in the Majors late in 2019 or at some point in 2020, but he’s still just 20 years of age and only getting his feet wet in Double-A. Gorman has yet to play above A-ball, while well-regarded 18-year-old Malcom Nunez will start his pro career in Rookie ball this summer. By the time Carpenter’s contract is nearing its conclusion, perhaps one of those promising young players will be on the cusp of the big leagues, but the lack of an immediate heir-apparent likely further pushed the Cards into keeping Carpenter on board into the 2021 season.
The Cardinals originally announced a press conference earlier this afternoon. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke the news that the presser was to announce a new deal for Carpenter. MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reported the length of the contract (Twitter link). The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reported the terms of the deal (via Twitter), with Goold adding the yearly breakdown and 2020 no-trade protection.
Place holding for Gorman for another year or so.
If Gorman becomes “Mike Schmidt” there are two options: trade him for value elsewhere or, more likely, Carpenter becomes the DH when the NL changes its rules.
If the NL adopts the DH soon, then Jose Martinez will become the Cardinals’ DH.
Anyway, it’s just a two year extension plus an option, so Gorman won’t be blocked for long if at all.
Carpenter is a better hitter than Martinez, so I’ll take him in that hypothetical role.
How are going make room for Gorman? The rash of extensions around MLB is troubling to me.
Shhh this is a bad take. They either have two capable players in the future or they have one bad contract and a good prospect. So much worrying over a franchise player being extended.
If worse comes Gorman can play right field. He had a lot of errors in the minors.
I think carpenter is the one who needs a position change. He’s looked like a rough 3B this year.
stan lee the manly
Look up the defensive metrics, he’s still an above-average defender at third base. This is a false narrative brought on by having a poor first basemen to throw to in Martinez and his unsightly throwing motion. I’m not sure why fans continue to miss on this.
He’s at -1 DRS this year which is irrelevant given the small sample size. I don’t think he’s a particularly good defensive 3B. Last year DRS liked him a lot but historically he’s drawn mixed reviews. If he continues hitting a little below average defense won’t really matter
His best position is 1b. Not playing there for a long time now. Average at 3b. His OB abilities are his value along with the power if it stays.
No. His best position if you use actual stats and not your feelings is far and away 3rd base. He’s actually not a very good first basemen
Exactly. As to why, his game didn’t transfer to first is a bit of a mystery, but he was awful at first. No one who watches him on a regular basis could make the claim that third isn’t his best position.
stan lee the manly
Seriously, he’s a good third baseman. Not great, but definitely good. I really don’t get where they idea that he’s terrible at third came from, because it’s just not true.
because some fans think that if you’re not machado level defense, then you must be terrible. it’s ridiculous and very short sighted.
If you use actual stats that’s not really true because he doesn’t rate that well anywhere. He’s a cumulative -3 DRS 3b -3.8 UZR/150. At 1B he’s 1 DRS .1 UZR/150. Not very good in the aggregate at either but he’s a better 1B per lifetime stats. It’s pretty close and those stats aren’t perfect so you could certainly say he’s better at 3rd but he’s drawn mixed reviews at the position.
While he’s surprisingly better at 3B than 1B, he’s still a below average defender no matter which position he plays. Although, he’s at least a significantly better defender than Jose Martinez.
Imagine if the DH does come to the NL soon. There won’t be any worries over Gorman
i wouldn’t bank on that
Let’s see Gorman hit above A Ball before we assume his place on the mantle.
He’s 18. He won’t be contributing that much for at least 2 or 3 years, at which point the contract is over. So we’re good.
Man easy on the Gorman pandemonium. The kid is 18 and in A ball.
It turns out it’s only a two year extension plus an option, so Gorman won’t be blocked for long if at all. Despite being the Cards’ top prospect (now that Reyes has exceeded rookie status), he’s still at least two probably closer to three years away from the Big Leagues.
Gorman is 18 (19 in a month) and in Single A. He’s at least another season away, maybe two. While his bat obviously can push him near the majors, the defense still needs work.
If Gorman is ready to be a major league starter for the 2021 season, Carpenter simply becomes a super sub. Carp has played all four corner positions in his career, plus 2B.
But let’s not count chickens before they hatch.
The Cardinals sure do love extensions.
I’m predicting 3/$45M, replacing his 2020 club option.
stan lee the manly
Seems reasonable. Nice to see them keeping the pieces together
2 year deal with option for a 3rd.
Smart. Carp is one of the best leadoff batters in the league. That one two punch is really good. Now if they can plug in a true # 3 hitter we would be in business.
Carpenter is a sluggish and very streaky hitter with no base running skills.
The Cards have a true 3 hitter, but they keep hitting him at 2.
What is a true #3 hitter and what does that mean? Because if you’re looking for production, stats tell you that putting your best hitter 2nd is actually the most efficient way to score runs. And isn’t that what it’s about?
why did pujols bat third all those years if the 2 hole has your best hitter?
Because we didn’t know that the best place to bat your best hitter was the 2 spot until recently. And LaRussa wasn’t going to make that change to appease the “stat nerds”.
Depending on the situation. For the Cardinals, it does make sense to hit Goldy in the 2 spot. Im still scratching my head on DeJong at #3. My point is Goldy is locked up, in my opinion at a bargain and the Cardinals could go out a get another superstar to hit #3.
The greatest gift LaRussa ever gave the world is leaving the dugout. Now if he would just shut up for the rest of his life…
Not sure why people are surprised at the batting order. Dejong is the best cardinals hitter so far this year. People have no idea how good Dejong is or can be.
What’s wrong with DeJong? Keep in mind that wrist injury sapped his hitting ability even after he returned from the DL last year. When healthy like he is now, he’s easily the Cardinals’ 4th best (if not better) hitter and so deserves his spot in the top half of the order.
Keep scratching your head Redfeather, do you actually watch games? Dejong is on a tear and 11 game hitting streak. If anything brand names aren’t always a sure thing. Dejong is also one of the best to adjusting and last year was a fluke year due to the hand injury and regaining strength.
Carpenter has the been the single most consistent hitter on the Cardinals since 2012, and one of the most consistent players in the entire league. He’s averaged right around 150 games per year and has never sunk below 3 WAR in a season. For what it’s worth, Fangraphs has him listed with net positive base running value over the course his career, as well as in 2018.
So yeah. Your opinions are bad.
Have you ever watched him play? I’m not saying he’s right in all his assessments (based on my comment), but he is a streaky hitter. He collects multi-hit games like they’re going out of style. Just last year he started cold, heated up, then finished cold. We’re not talking about seasons, we’re talking within the seasons.
Seriously. You should perhaps watching him play on a regular basis instead of just checking stats on Fangraphs.
“You should just believe things based on what your gut tells you, rather than do research.”
Cool take, man.
Carpenter was only streaky last season. Normally, he’s a very consistent hitter, especially when it comes to getting on base.
You’re talking about “streaky” hitting like it necessarily dampens a player’s value? His season stats do the work of balancing out his “cold” stretches with his “hot” stretches, and the results are well above average.
HUH?!?! “Carpenter is a sluggish and very streaky hitter with no base running skills.”.. thats a joke right?
And they had one but they sent him off to the Rays for a minimal return….Tommy Pham.
God that one annoyed me. Even at the time I was like, dude seriously? I thought he would have turned it around because he’s such a hard worker and makes adjustments.
I liked Tommy, he played hard and gave honest answers even if it was unpopular to say.
Pham is certainly a better hitter as well as a pretty good defender and baserunner, but between Bader’s elite defense and speed and decent hitting, there’s not as much of a drop off between the two of them as you might think. Plus, Bader is a lot younger.
Of course, in an ideal world, the Cardinals would’ve kept Pham around as the starting RF, but between the Fowler contract and also having Martinez and O’Neill available, the situation is far from ideal.
I guess that’s what I was getting at. Bader is phenomenal in CF. I bet there was behind the scenes things that pushed the trade. Still though, Tommy Pham in RF or LF sounds a lot better right now.
I know they weren’t gonna release Fowler or bench ozuna, but I dislike payroll politics and he’s raking with the rays while Fowler is still kinda meh.
I have been trying to explain just how good Carpenter’s play at third has been. He is an above average defender there. And of course he is an offensive force. Cards probably figure that by the time Gorman is ready the DH will be implemented in the NL, much to.my chagrin. Good extension, now if the Red Birds can figure out their corner outfield issues. They aren’t winning any championships with the duo they have there.
Ozuna will be fine. He is only under contract for this season though. I have lost faith in Fowler. I like Martinez’s bat and O’Neill has potential.
No Ozuna is not fine, even if he surpasses his 2018 numbers, he is such a liability in left that he becomes an average corner outfielder. Look for the Cards to move him soon.
He has a shoulder issue.. those are tough to recover from. Cards are not going to just let him sit out. I didnt know average fielders got Gold Gloves either.
What’s wrong with an average defensive corner outfielder? It’s better than what Fowler or Martinez give you.
In any case, Ozuna still wields a huge bat despite his weak shoulder, and his shoulder should be fully recovered in a couple of months, anyway.
By the time Gorman is ready, the extension will almost be over, anyway.
If the NL does adopt the DH soon (and that’s a big if), then Jose Martinez is the obvious first choice.
Good job Cards!!
Legacy deal. Similar to Yadi. Giving an extension to a declining asset to reward him for a great career. Yes ik Carpenter has a good year last year but just looking forward in the future he probably won’t have a season like last year in the future
stan lee the manly
Except that Yadi was among the most productive offensive catchers in the league last year. Not to mention how him just being on the field drastically reduced how often teams tried to steal on him. O ya, and his defense. Crazy how much he’s declined…eye roll
The Cardinals don’t do “legacy deals”, they aren’t a club that spends five years rebuilding. If they don’t think the player will be productive enough to justify the amount the player wants, they aren’t signing the player.
stop, they paid yadi 20 mil last year to put 1.8 WAR and they’re gonna pay him 20 mil next year when he’s 37. thats a legacy deal if i’ve ever seen one, nevermind he was negative 1 DRS last year. he’s gotten by based on name and reputation alone for awhile now
also, the cards may be a team that doesn’t “rebuild” but they also havent made the postseason in awhile, and yet they hand out legacy deals to yadi, wainwright and now carp
Are you dense? Wainwright hasn’t gotten any legacy deals. His last deal was a fair deal and he just struggled to stay healthy. Now he is taking it year by year. Yadi got a popped testicle last year and missed like 40 games yet still put up some of the best number for a catcher in baseball. Carp was streaky last year, but finished top 10 in NL MVP voting.
Quit acting so biased and delusional.
stan lee the manly
Walls, it has been proven time and time again that WAR for catchers is not at all a good way to measure productivity. He’s still considered one of the top catchers in the game and it sure isn’t his reputation. You don’t see people going on and on about how Felix Hernandez is still the best pitcher on the mound or Albert Pujols is still a great hitter because they both stopped producing. YADI HASN’T STOPPED. That’s why he’s still in that conversation.
Metrics don’t and won’t work the same way for catchers because of how much more goes into that position than what they do at the plate and how many passed balls they allow. Using WAR to measure catchers compared to regular position players is ignorant and fails to capture how productive a player like Molina still is.
this is one of the most ridiculously uneducated statements i’ve seen in a while. giving a sure fire hall of fame catcher a market value deal in the age of free agency is a legacy deal to you? just stop. please
Exactly Stan! That’s why the Cardinals compete every year. They do it the right way. They never tank for one year of glory like the guys who are paying for it now on the north side of Chicago
Wait, they’ve been trying to compete these past few years?
Themed, you so old you’ll be dead before this contract is up.
Not so good this JD. Things look pretty bleak up there.
Yep, there’s a pretty big example of them not doing a “legacy deal”: pujols, obviously
I don’t like that he can’t hit anywhere but first. I don’t like that noodle he calls an arm. I don’t like how streaky he is. I don’t like that he isn’t fast.
But when he is right, he can influence the wins as good as anyone. He puts together good at bats. He has power. He makes the pitchers think. And that’s what we need. So I’m not super thrilled that Goldy will be calling for fair catches when Carp throws over for the next three years, but there are far, far worse options to have at 3B.
stan lee the manly
Carp will be at DH before this contract is over
That is also a possibility. I hate it, but you are correct.
stan lee the manly
Ya me too. The fact that I’ve accepted that the DH is coming enough to even type that comment made me a little disgusted with myself.
Even if that does happen, why in the world would you pick Carp as the DH over Jose Martinez?
Can they use a cut off man for his throws to first in a couple years?
You haven’t seen Carps arm this year. Much stronger accurate as hell, and like always he has a quick release. He is an asset at third not a liability.
I’ve seen him. Hes trying to make up for the weak arm by getting rid of it quicker. Its worked so far but hes still not an asset at 3b
And his base running is supurb…… almost as fast as Molina
No, he had never been a good baserunner. No speed, and not good judgement, but so far.in 2019, he has been better.
If you’re 33-36, just call Mo. He’ll overpay you.
Hasn’t overpaid anyone yet in that age group. Think think think before posting.
It’s his opinion, one different from yours. Think think think your argument is weak weak weak.
Excellent move… Carp deserves it
Good move by the Cards. Carpenter has some flaws (As most all MLB players) but overall he is a solid player. Cards may be setting themselves up to make a run at Anthony Rendon this upcoming free agent season. That’s if Rendon doesn’t resign with the Nationals.
Um, they just extended Carpenter, so where would Rendon play?
No worries. Carpenter is pretty versatile. He can move to 2nd. I know that’s Wong’s position and he is currently signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021. Wong can be used as a solid bench/role player. You can never have to much depth. Or you can use Carpenter in left when Ozuna becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Gorman is a real good prospect. The Cards can keep that chip in their pocket for know and use for a potential future trade deal. A nice problem to have in my opinion. Think of the Cards potentially having a starting infield in 2020 of Rendon at 3rd, Dejoung at SS, Carpenter at 2nd and Goldly at 1st. That’s likely the best all round infield in baseball. At least tha’s how I see it.
Why in the world would the Cards move a gold-glove caliber player from 2nd base to the bench just to have Carpenter take over? It would make more sense to put Carp in left in your scenario than to bench Wong. I hate Wong’s offense, but his defense is irreplaceable right now. And so far this year, Wong is showing up at the plate.
Have vision and some desire to make bold moves. I’ll take my projected staring infield in 2020 of Rendon, Dejoung, Carpenter and Goldy over some extra “D” that Wong would bring. Wong is an excellent defender but he never, right or wrong on the voters part won a gold glove. This starting infield has the ability, with all thing being equal, of hitting over 100 HR’s.
Good deal! Congratulations Matt!
I’m not sure why so many Cardinals fans don’t like Carpenter. He produces every year, is versatile, and is always a tough out. I hate seeing this guy at the plate as an opposing fan.
Every player is streaky unless they just always suck. He’s a really good player who I would love to have on the Brewers. What’s not to like?
Who doesn’t like him?
Right here, terrible base runner, constantly ticks off the home plate umpires, which effects the entire team, take away one 6 week period last year and you have a worse than replacement level player
stan lee the manly
You can pick and choose anybody’s stats and find a way to make them a worse than replacement level player, cherry picking stats never tells the whole story. He was an mvp candidate last year, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to do.
I mean being one of the absolute best players for 4 1/2 months out of 6 is more accurate than “being replacement level outside of 6 weeks.”
Now if Allen Craig could just make it back!
Cardinals did not pay for Alan Craig’s modest Extention. He was traded for John Lackey who helped pitch the Cardinals to another World Series in 2013. But nice try.
Lackey was traded for in 14.
Shhh, we haven’t told themed that the Cards lost the WS in ‘13 yet.
Not only was Lackey not with the Cardinals in 2013, the Cardinals didn’t even win the World Series in 2013. Nice try loser.
Really? Gotta call someone a loser because they got their time frames mixed up? Also, he never said they won the world series that year. Try harder to read, understand, and be a nicer person.
Completely unrelated, but will MLBTR continue to deny comments about Heimlich if he were to make his debut in MLB?
If he were to be signed by a MLB team?
Congrats to Carpenter from a fan of a division rival. He’s not a star, but he has been one of their best and overall most consistent players for a long time now, and he’s still producing. This a a good deal.
He is indeed a star, just not a superstar.
Just wanted to point out that Brebbia will not be eligible for arbitration after this season. He only has 1 year and 93 days of service, and even if he stays on the 25-man roster all year, he will be well short of the time required for him to be a Super Two, at least for threshold that it has taken the last 5 years
Nice signing for the Cardinals. It’s a risk given Carpenters already 33, but his skill-set should age relatively well, and being it’s only through 2021, the years aren’t out of control.
Matt Carpenter has a higher career wRC+ than Anthony Rizzo
I’ll take Anthony Rizzo right now over Matt Carpenter.
Go ahead take rizzo and all the other cubs. Gonna be a fun year as the NL Central gets back to normal with the Cardinals getting back on top of the perch as they have owned the NL Central most of this century.
Uh…have you seen the Brewers? Look out!
Cards have a +11 run differential, Brewers have a -6
That’s much more indicative of how each team has been playing and likely will continue to play than their records (which Cards are only .5 games back)
The only reason to logically take Rizzo over Carpenter is age.
Since the start of 2018
AR – .278/.376/.465 – 124 wRC+
MC – .254/.370/.511 – 134 wRC+
They both came into the league at the same time, and Carpenter has a higher WAR in less PA. The only reason you’d consider Rizzo over Carpenter is their ages, not because of how they have performed.
Rizzo 29.0 WAR. Carpenter 25.4. Do you ever consider defense or is offense everything?
Carpenter 28.5 fWAR, Rizzo 25.1 fWAR
Since start of 2018, Carpenter 5.0 fWAR, Rizzo 3.0 fWAR
So yes, and the comment was wRC+, not WAR. I wasn’t talking total body of work. I was referring to it likely surprising people that Carpenter has been a better hitter than Rizzo.
The lack of intelligent conversation/discussion in this comment section is truly astounding. “We don’t need stats nerd” and “Gorman will definitely be ready by 19” is definitely the way to go about things, I’m just sure of it.
Oh boy!!! Locked in to another 2 possibly 3 years of a lead off hitter that steps in the box looking for a walk while maintaining a .225 batting average and an OBP of .300. No speed and no threat to steal a base as a lead off hitter. Great with a glove at 3rd, but painful to watch him throw to first base. However, I’m convienced that Carpenter does have the Cardinals at heart in anything he does or attempts to do.