Extension season continues!
In what has already been one of the most unusual 1.5 months of extensions all around baseball, we have another deal to address. This time, it’s the Cardinals and three-time All-Star Matt Carpenter:
Matt Carpenter is the man of the hour. He receives a two-year contract extension plus vesting option for third year. pic.twitter.com/m466Tc5K7H
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) April 10, 2019
Before this deal, Carpenter, 33, had the following terms left on his deal with the devil, excuse me, the Cardinals:
2020: $18.5M club option ($2M buyout)
Which means Carpenter could’ve been a free agent at the end of this year. However, the Cardinals have apparently used the momentum of the market to swing some cost certainty for next season as well as at least two more years of potential control. Indeed, according to Derrick Goold, the deal will take Carpenter through the 2021 season, which seems to indicate that it takes effect immediately after this year, replacing the existing option for 2020 and securing his services for 2021. That also means that the vesting option could keep Carpenter in St. Louis through the 2022 season, when he’ll be 36-years-old.
We don’t yet know the financial details of the extension (or the option), but we’ll likely find out soon. I’ll update this post with that news, when it’s out.
As for his performance, Matt Carpenter has been very good since 2012. Here’s a brief thousand-foot overview of his results from that season until today:
2012: 124 wRC+, 1.5 WAR
2013: 146 wRC+, 7.2 WAR
2014: 117 wRC+. 3.4 WAR
2015: 139 wRC+, 5.3 WAR
2016: 136 wRC+, 3.2 WAR
2017: 123 wRC+, 3.1 WAR
2018: 138 wRC+, 4.9WAR
Yes he’s getting up there in age and yes he’s had a slow start to this season, but depending on the cost, this seems like a smart move for the Cardinals – especially after they extended Paul Goldschmidt – to keep that window of contention open.
UPDATE: So it looks like the financials are in:
Matt Carpenter gets $39 million for ‘20 and ‘21 combined and another $18.5m for ‘22 if he gets 1,100 plate appearances over the first two years, per source.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 10, 2019
According to Mark Saxon, the Cardinals will pay Carpenter $18.5M in 2020 and 2021 and he apparently as a $2M buyout caked in there somewhere too (that’s how it gets to $39M guaranteed). He can earn an additional $18.5M in 2022 if he stays healthy enough to average 550 plate appearances between the 2020 and 2021 seasons (and has at least 550 PAs in 2021).
Obviously, that becomes more difficult as you age, but Carpenter has averaged far more than that over the past six years:
2013: 717 PAs
2014: 709 PAs
2015: 665 PAs
2016: 566 PAs
2017: 622 PAs
2018: 677 PAs
Average: 659 PAs/year.
In any case, by effectively paying Carpenter exactly $18.5M next season and not guaranteeing him the third year, this is basically like the Cardinals picked up his 2020 option and gave him one additional year at the same rate. If he stays healthy, he’ll get his third year. Of course, if he stays healthy, he’ll also likely stay productive. And if he maintains anything close to the level of production he’s provided over the last several years, the Cardinals will be happy to pay him.