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Cardinals bring back Matt Carpenter on one-year deal, say veteran infielder is ‘synonymous with winning’

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Friday that they’ve reached a one-year agreement with free-agent infielder Matt Carpenter. Carpenter will only make the prorated league minimum given that he was already under contract for $5.5 million when he was released by the Atlanta Braves earlier this offseason. (He was previously obtained in a trade from the San Diego Padres.)

This will represent a homecoming of sorts for Carpenter, who spent the first 11 seasons (2011-2021) of his big-league career in St. Louis.

“When you think of players that helped shape our success in the 2000s, Matt Carpenter’s name is one that is synonymous with winning,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in a team-issued press release. “Matt showed from the very beginning of his career how hard work and determination can lead to success, and we are excited to have his leadership and experience back in a Cardinals uniform.”

Carpenter, 38, split the last two seasons with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees. They were polar opposites. With the Padres last year, he batted .176/.322/.319 (81 OPS+) with five home runs and 31 RBI. His contributions were worth less than replacement level, per Baseball-Reference’s calculations. That effort disappointed only in light of Carpenter’s previous season with the Yankees, with whom he homered 15 times in 47 games. Overall, he amassed a .305/.412/.727 (216 OPS+) slash line.

Carpenter figures to slot into a reserve role for the Cardinals, who already have entrenched starters at first and third base, in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals also already have a lefty designated hitter, in Brendan Donovan, as well as an outfield depth chart overbrimming with options. 

Carpenter made three All-Star Games and won a Silver Slugger during his first tour of duty with the Cardinals. He earned Most Valuable Player Award consideration on three occasions and produced a slash line of .262/.368/.449 with 155 home runs and 26.8 WAR. 

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