March 08, 2014

#Cardinals to make Matt Carpenter part of early extension club (updated)

Having kind of pioneered the move with Allen Craig, then to see the Braves copy it with Freddie Freeman, and even at the early end of the curve with Andrelton Simmons, and Cincinnati doing the same with Homer Bailey, the Cardinals have decided to ink third baseman Matt Carpenter to a similar deal.

Update, March 8: It's official, at 6/$52, sp.litting the middle of what was, per Derrick Gould, pegged at somewhere between 6/$50 and 6/$55. The deal includes a team option seventh year at $18.5M. If Carpenter is still at 90 percent of his 2013 performance, the team exercises that, no doubt. If he's below 80 percent, they decline. Somewhere in the middle? The Birds and Matt use that option as the starting point for another extension.

At one year younger than Craig, and likewise a bit of a late bloomer at the MLB level, Craig is a good comparison point. Even if Matt has a mild regression on doubles or BABIP this year, it's still good for the team at the back end, and also good for him at the front end. That compares to the 6/$44 with Craig from two years ago, assuming the Birds exercise the $13M team option in 2018. Given that Carpenter, unlike Craig, is a plus defender, and also given that he plays at a more premium defensive position, whether third this year or second last year, if he's anywhere close to 2013 performance through the life of the contract, this might be a better deal from the team's standing, of course. In exchange, Carpenter surrenders two free agent years as well as his arbitration years.

For people who, like one MLBTradeRumors commenter, wonder about my idenfication of Carp as a "plus defender" when B-R shows him as a career negative?

He was 0.3 in dWAR last year. Previous years were partial plays, and at multiple positions, with most of his previous negative dWAR coming from OF play. And, remember, 3B was his original position. So, I'll put him at 0.3-0.5 dWAR this year.

Besides, Bernie Miklasz likes it, as he said in his latest Breakfast with Bernie video. Thank doorknob he did NOT mention "Cardinal Way" in it, though I thought he was about to.

This also gives the team yet more flexibility on the young gun pitchers, and to whom to give early extension contracts. It will be interesting to look at John Mozeliak's pecking order on approaching Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal. The latter two are very unlikely to get any discussion before next year. Miller, with more service time, may hear something this year, though probably not.

Lynn, with yet another year of time than Miller? Will the Cards approach him before the end of spring training? I kind of doubt it. I think they want to see another year of him, especially in the second half, to see if he's improving his late-season stamina, and also to see where they sit with their other pitchers.

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