The Cardinals announced an extension with infielder Matt Carpenter on Wednesday that will keep him in St. Louis through 2021 with a vesting option for 2022. The contract, which will include a full no-trade clause once it officially kicks in next season, will guarantee Carpenter $39 million with a $18.5 million option that takes effect if he collects 1,100 total plate appearances over the two guaranteed years of the deal, at least 550 of which must come during the ‘21 season. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold broke news of the deal minutes before the team’s press conference:
The #Cardinals appear to have worked out an agreement with Matt Carpenter, whose guaranteed deal expires at the end of this season, according to a source, working for confirmation. https://t.co/sooNxzOJhF— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) April 10, 2019
Contract has a no-trade that kicks in for 2020. The option, at $18.5 million, for 2022 kicks in with 1,100 PAs total in 2020-21 AND at least 550 PAs in 2021, per source. Has a $2m buyout, $18.5m salary and that’s how it gets to $39m guarantee, per sources. https://t.co/tnLZACxwCu— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) April 10, 2019
Carpenter has been a key member of the Cardinals’ lineup for almost this entire decade, and his career has been primarily defined by two very useful skills: An ability to thrive out of the leadoff spot and impressive versatility. Carpenter has seen frequent action at each of first , second, and third base — his natural position and current everyday spot — over the course of his nine seasons in St. Louis, and he also spent some time at the corner outfield spot earlier in his career. Carpenter, a career .273/.376/.469 hitter, has been one of the most prolific leadoff hitters in baseball history, posting a .286/.388/.493 line with 104 homers all-time out of the No. 1 spot. He’s become a significantly better power hitter in recent seasons, having hit at least 21 bombs over each of the last four years, including a career-high 36 in 2018.
With news of the deal, the Cardinals now have their entire current starting infield under club control through at least 2021: Paul Goldschmidt signed an extension last month that will keep him in St. Louis through 2024, Kolten Wong will make $10.25 million next year and has a $12.5 million club option for 2021, Paul DeJong has a long-term deal that is guaranteed through 2023 with club options for 2024-25, and obviously now Carpenter could be in the fold through 2022, depending on how the vesting option works out.
The new contract could end up putting the Cardinals in somewhat of an awkward position from a defensive standpoint over the next few seasons; Goldschmidt has played exclusively first base as a major-leaguer and isn’t switching positions at this stage of his career, and while Carpenter has maintained decent range as he’s gotten into his 30s, it’s widely believed that his throwing arm now makes him a liability at third base. If Carpenter regresses significantly at the position as he reaches his mid-30s, the Cardinals may end up with their hands tied. In that event, it’d certainly help them out if the universal DH were to be implemented throughout baseball.
Carpenter is the fourth player the Cardinals have signed to a multi-year extension since the start of spring training, with Carpeter following Goldschmidt, Miles Mikolas, and José Martínez.