Matt Carpenter essentially came from out of nowhere to be a linchpin player for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, and he will continue to be one for the foreseeable future after signing an extension with the club on Saturday, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the extension includes a club option for the 2020 season:
Rosenthal has also released a year-by-year breakdown of the contract, which ascends in value quite rapidly:
Carpenter looked pleased with the contract at the official press conference on Saturday, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Carpenter entered the 2013 campaign with just 359 plate appearances to his credit, but he quickly became one of the best all-around players in the National League. Carpenter finished the year with a .318 batting average, 11 home runs, 78 RBI and a .392 on-base percentage.
Carpenter also led the NL in runs (126), hits (199) and doubles (55). He finished fourth in the MVP voting, earned an All-Star nod and won the Silver Slugger Award at second base. Carpenter's versatility was on display throughout the season as he played some third base as well, and that gives the Cards some options this year and beyond.
There is inherent risk in giving the 28-year-old Carpenter this type of extension since he is a late bloomer who only has one big season under his belt, but this contract could prove to be a steal for St. Louis if Carpenter continues his ascent.
One person who has to be particularly happy that Carpenter will remain in the fold is Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Prior to the finalization of Carpenter's extension, Matheny made it clear that he wanted Carpenter to be a big part of the team moving forward, according to Goold of the Post-Dispatch.
One of those great stories—a guy who didn't necessarily have the golden road paved for him. He came in here and worked his butt off. He's done a real nice job. The conversations are starting and I hope they continue.
The Cardinals organization was clearly committed to making Carpenter feel like an important piece of the puzzle. Per Rosenthal, Carpenter's contract is actually worth more than that of Pittsburgh Pirates star outfielder Andrew McCutchen:
That speaks volumes since McCutchen is a far more established player than Carpenter as of right now. There is no question that Carpenter was one of the most complete players in baseball last season, but now he has to maintain it.
ESPN is reporting that Carpenter will move from second base to third in 2014 in order to make room for rookie Kolten Wong.
With Carlos Beltran no longer on the team, Carpenter is even more valuable to the Cardinals this season and will be looked to as a key member of St. Louis' lineup.
The pressure of playing under such a big contract may be a concern, but it's a chance the Cards simply had to take.
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