(Busch Stadium) If everything goes according to plan, Matt Carpenter will finish his career with the St. Louis Cardinals as the third baseman and team announced a two-year contract extension this afternoon.
“I can’t put into words the gratitude that I’m feeling right now,” Carpenter began. “Taking a chance on a fifth year senior out of TCU in 2009, to be here today and potentially have an opportunity to wear the same uniform–one that I admire and treasure, for an entire career is quite a thrill.”
This had been the final season Carpenter was under contract with St. Louis, although the team held an option for 2020. He is now signed through 2021 with a vesting option for 2022.
“I was very clear in my message that this is where I wanted to be,” Carpenter said. “If you’re a fan of the game and you enjoy playing this game as much I do, you can’t play in better place than St. Louis. You can’t play in front of a better group of fans, you can’t play for a better owner who’s convicted in winning and a front office that gives you a chance every year to do that, and a manager that can put all those pieces together and go where we want to go. It’s a no-brainer for me and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity.”
Initial discussions began at the Winter Meetings when President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak ran into Carpenter’s agent, Brian Cahill. The pair met again in early February and then after Spring Training began they decided to “roll up our sleeves” and get the extension completed.
“The reason we were motivated to try to do this is because where he’s at in his career, we wanted him to be continue to wear the Cardinals uniform,” Mozeliak said. “He takes such great pride in the city of St. Louis. You think about Carp and his wife, McKenzie, and how active they are in the city of St. Louis, it really was something that we felt like if we could find a way to have a meeting of the minds it would make sense and we were able to do that.”
In 1031 career games, Carpenter has hit .273 with 134 home runs, 585 walks, and a .376 on-base percentage. In 2013 and 2018, he finished among the top-10 in National League Most Valuable Player voting and is a three time All-Star.
“When you think back to Carp’s career with the Cardinals, we’ve always won,” Mozeliak said. “There’s sort of two things all of us need to remember–he’s created enormous flexibility for the Cardinals because he was always willing to play a different position to allow us to maximize our team. Really what it says is he’s truly a team player.
Collecting his 1000th hit the end of March, Carpenter became only the sixth player in franchise history to reach the milestone while wearing a Cardinal uniform. He’s also set franchise records for career (23) and single-season (8) lead-off home runs. But there is only one milestone that the infielder is focused on, winning a World Series.
“It’s just the easiest answer for me, there’s only one that I care about at all,” Carpenter explained. “I have a World Series ring that I was graciously given, but I didn’t really feel like I was a part of. There’s nothing I want more than that. It’s a big reason why I wanted to be here because I know that it’s coming. And it’s coming with this group. It would’ve broke my heart to not be a part of it and I know that now I get a chance to do that. That’s the number one thing. The only thing I want to accomplish as a Cardinal is winning a World Series. I see how, you’re just cherished in this town for your life if you accomplish that goal. I’ve seen it with some of my teammates and guys that I’ve played with that have left and I want that more than anything.”
The 33-year old Carpenter joins Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Martinez, and Miles Mikolas as Cardinals who have signed multi-year extensions this year. In addition, the team now has their entire infield under contract through at least 2021.
“As we look to the future, clearly we have a lot of players how signed now and under control,” Mozeliak said. “But as Carp sent me a text a couple of weeks ago, about this is a good team. We have a lot of good energy on this club and under Mike Shildt’s leadership we really feel like we’re in a good spot so it really screamed like we had to get this done. Thankfully, we were able to.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseball Weekly.com