Updated–The St. Louis Cardinals have officially announced the signing of Carpenter to a six-year contract extension through 2019, with an option for 2020.
Last season, Matt Carpenter emerged as an All-Star and a leader for the St. Louis Cardinals. And now two years before he is arbitration eligible, the team is reportedly closing in on rewarding their third baseman with a multi-year extension.
Similar to the 5-year contract Allen Craig signed during Spring Training last year, the move provides benefit to both sides. For the player, security and a hefty pay raise. For the team, cost certainty for a core player.
Carpenter hit .318 last season and led the National League in runs (126), hits (199), and doubles (55).
But also of importance has been the growth of his leadership role in the clubhouse.
“There was a time last year where I told him it was time that he should probably be a little more vocal,” recalled Manager Mike Matheny. “Every young player has that kind of awkward time of ‘okay, I don’t have that many years under my belt should I even be saying anything’ and they need that green light—either from a veteran player or from someone on the staff. It became very obvious through parts of last year, this guy has something to say, so don’t be afraid to say it.
“At first, when a young guy speaks up he’s asking for some ribbing from the other guys but then again, it comes down to the production. It comes down to the work ethic. It comes down to the professionalism that he brought to the field every day that over a 162-game season, they can’t help but respect.
“When they first saw him, when he first came in here to Spring Training you see this guy that’s in here all day and work, work, work and they’re like ‘yeah, but can he do it all season’? Next thing you know, they’re like ‘wow, he can do it all season’. Next thing you know he’s doing it all season and now he’s in the conversation for Most Valuable Player. All that is a great transition. Now is a very exciting time for him.”
Indeed there is no question now–and while his presence became greater after being given the green light last year, it is clear that Carpenter is now regarded as one of the main leaders in the clubhouse.
“That’s something that I’m really excited about,” Carpenter recently told St. Louis Baseball Weekly. “That’s been a goal of mine since the day I put on this uniform. I wanted to establish myself as a player and then take on a leadership role in the clubhouse and all those things. And now that we’re here—there’s nothing more exciting to me than living up to an expectation because that’s what this game is all about. My goal for this year is to not only live up to those but to exceed them and if everybody in this clubhouse kind of has that mindset, then it’s going to be a special year.”