With the 2014 MLB season now rapidly approaching, it is clear that most teams are done spending money, but the St. Louis Cardinals broke this chain by signing Matt Carpenter to a six year, $52 million deal with an option for the 2020 season. After looking at this trade, there is no way for anyone to come out feeling that the Cardinals got anything than a bargain deal, and in the process, set themselves up for a heap of future success.
The main value that Carpenter is going to provide is from the plate, as he is an absolutely great hitter, with his main asset being the ability to hit efficiently to all three parts of the diamond. During the 2013 season, he compiled a slash line of .318/.392/.481 with 11 home runs, 55 doubles, 78 RBI, 199 hits and 126 runs scored. Moving forward, it is hard to expect the 28 year old to tapper off much at the plate, and there are few people any team could want batting at the top of their lineup.
When you combine everything that Carpenter can bring to the top of a lineup with his versatility on the diamond, you have a type of player that teams would be clamoring for on the open market. The 28 year old played mainly at second base last year, but he posses the ability to play at third base, first base, left field and right field, and has a fundamentally sound style of play that makes him a slightly above average player at each position. Furthermore, after switching to third base this year to accommodate youngster Kolten Wong, it is clear that Carpenter is the type of classy and team first player that have come to define the Cardinals.
Moving forward, it is clear that the Cardinals have a bargain on their hands, as even if Carpenter drops from his 6.6 WAR of 2013 to four to five per year over the six year deal, they will actually be stealing money from the player. This is because one WAR is worth between $6-7 million on the free agent market, which means that St. Louis can expect to get between a player who is conceivably worth $20 million per year for only $8.67 million per.
There is no denying that the Cardinals are now better set for the future than nearly any team in baseball, as they have Carpenter, Allen Craig, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday all locked down to multiple year deals. For an organization that has made the playoffs in 10 of the last 14 seasons, it is clear much more success is on its way, and Carpenter will be a featuring face on a World Series winner or two.