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Matt Carpenter, Cards reach 2-year extension

@LangoschMLB
April 11, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- A decade after he was a fifth-year senior at Texas Christian University simply looking for a lifeline so he could pursue his dream to play professionally, Matt Carpenter now finds himself with an opportunity to finish that career as a lifetime Cardinal. Prior to Wednesday’s game against

ST. LOUIS -- A decade after he was a fifth-year senior at Texas Christian University simply looking for a lifeline so he could pursue his dream to play professionally, Matt Carpenter now finds himself with an opportunity to finish that career as a lifetime Cardinal.

Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers, the Cardinals announced a two-year contract extension for Carpenter that includes a vesting option for 2022. He'll get $39 million for ‘20-21 combined and another $18.5 million for ‘22 if he gets 1,100 plate appearances over the first two years, according to a report by Mark Saxon of The Athletic.The deal replaces an $18.5 million option for 2020 that was part of Carpenter's six-year, $52 million contract that expires at the end of this season.

It’s the fourth contract extension the Cardinals have handed out since the start of February, following those for Jose Martinez, Miles Mikolas and Paul Goldschmidt.

“I was just very clear in my message that this is where I want to be,” Carpenter, 33, said. “This is obviously home for my family, but more importantly, if you’re a fan of the game and enjoy playing this game as much as I do, you can’t play in a better place than St. Louis. You can’t play in front of better fans, you can’t play for a better owner who is convicted in winning and a front office that gives you a chance every year to do that and for a manager who can put all those pieces together and go where we want to go.

“It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Discussions about an extension germinated at the Winter Meetings and were then revisited in Spring Training. After completing the work on Goldschmidt’s deal during the final week of camp, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and his staff turned their attention toward locking down their other corner infielder.

“When you think back on Carp’s career with the Cardinals, we’ve always won,” said Mozeliak, who oversaw the 2009 MLB Draft in which Carpenter became the team’s 13th-round pick. “The reason we were motivated to try to do this is because where he’s at in his career, we wanted him to continue to wear the Cardinal uniform.”

Now in his eighth full season in St. Louis, Carpenter has a lifetime .273/.376/.469 slash line. He’s coming off a 2018 campaign in which he recorded a personal-best 36 homers and an .897 OPS while finishing as a top-10 vote-getter in the National League MVP race for a second time in his career.

He holds the club’s single-season record for doubles by a left-handed batter (55), as well as the franchise record for career (23) and single-season (eight) leadoff homers. He leads all active players with a .388 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot and with his 245 doubles since 2013. He, Goldschmidt and Mike Trout are the only active Major Leaguers with at least 600 runs scored over the past seven seasons.

“[His] work ethic [is] off the charts,” manager Mike Shildt said. “Matt Carpenter came into this game with his eyes wide open. He knew his rope wasn’t very long. And he was determined to do something and make the best of the opportunity.”

In extending Carpenter, the Cardinals have also assured continuity within their infield. All four of their starting infielders are playing under long-term deals, with Goldschmidt signed through 2024, Kolten Wong through 2020 (plus a 2021 option) and Paul DeJong through 2023 (plus options for 2024 and 2025).

It’s the sort of permanence the organization has rarely enjoyed. Only once in the past 30 years has the team started the same four infielders on consecutive Opening Days.

“That’s what makes good teams – when you can lock guys together for a certain amount of years and you can build that chemistry and that time together,” Wong said. “You can really figure out how to play with each other.”

As for what Carpenter wants to achieve alongside that group?

“The only thing I want to accomplish as a Cardinal is winning a World Series,” he said. “It’s a big reason why I want to be here -- because I know that’s coming. It’s coming with this group. It would have broken my heart not to be a part of it. Now I know I get a chance to do that.

“You’re just cherished in this town for your life if you accomplish that goal. I want that more than anything.”

Jenifer Langosch is a senior content manager at MLB.com. She previously covered the Pirates (2007-11) and Cardinals (2012-19). Follow her on Twitter.