The St. Louis Cardinals came out well in their big offseason move, but they’d surely like to erase one contract from their books.
More than most MLB teams, the St. Louis Cardinals were and will be affected by a lack of fans in stadiums. But that did not prevent them from making a major move this offseason, acquiring Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies. Along with not having to give up any of their top-end prospects, the Rockies included some significant money to cover what Arenado is owed.
Right now, with few (if any) moves to make before Opening Day, the Cardinals have the 10th-highest payroll in baseball ($154.6 million). Some of that ($14.75 million) is the money they retained in trading Dexter Fowler to the Angels. But their balance sheet is somewhat top-heavy, with six guys counting for at least $11.7 million this year.
The Cardinals would erase this contract if they could
In April of 2019, the Cardinals signed Matt Carpenter to a two-year, $39 million contract extension. He was coming off a 2018 campaign where he hit a career-high 36 home runs and finished ninth in NL MVP voting. The two years since, even with the caveat of 2018 being a home run outlier, have not been good.
Matt Carpenter 2019-20 (179 games-661 plate appearances): .216/.332/.372 slash-line (.704 OPS), 19 HR, 70 RBI, 89 OPS+
Carpenter, 35, is due to make $18.5 million this season. He also won’t be a starter, unless he beats out Tommy Edman for the second base job. That’s a pretty expensive utility player/DH, and Carpenter is limited to infield spots that aren’t shortstop.
Carpenter had an $18.5 million vesting option for 2022, based on a total of 1,100 plate appearances between 2020 and 2021. According to Spotrac, since the short 2020 season took the vesting aspect out of picture, it’s now a $12 million club option with a $2 million buyout.
So the Cardinals have only have one more year committed to Carpenter, then he’ll surely be set free. Even as the favorites to win an up for grabs NL Central, they can only imagine how much better they could have used that $18.5 million this year.