The Cardinals appear to have already done most of their heavy lifting this offseason.
While there is likely at least one more move coming, let’s take some time to look at somebody who the Cardinals have already signed.
In this piece, we will be looking at Matt Carpenter and his return to St. Louis.
Like many, I was skeptical at first about this move. I didn’t really see how it would help the team perform better, as if that were the intent, then the Cardinals would simply be trying to turn back the clock, which never works.
However, after some time passed, I ultimately was grateful that he was brought back. While he doesn’t add much value in terms of performance at this point in his career, there are other factors to consider. We’ll discuss this more below.
What Carpenter brings for 2024
If clubhouse culture was truly an issue, as John Mozeliak alluded to, then Carpenter should help with that. He’ll be a veteran leader that young players can lean on for guidance.
Keep in mind that he was also signed to the league minimum and won’t be an everyday player. He’s not going to take at-bats away from Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Tommy Edman, or even Alec Burleson.
Simply put, he’s a veteran bench bat that has been around the organization before, knows the ropes, and could be used in a clutch situation if need be.
The Padres signed him seemingly hoping that he would play a more prominent role as a left-handed DH option. I suppose Carpenter could do that with the Cardinals this year.
With Gorman, Donovan, and Edman all in the starting lineup, I imagine it’s unlikely that he’ll really even be a platoon piece. But if and when he does play, there are a few roles he could fill.
Firstly, he could be a solid pinch hitter against right-handed pitchers. Oli Marmol could find a good matchup for Carpenter if he sees fit.
But beyond that, he could get an occasional start as a DH or in the infield if somebody needs a day off. While he’s not the prototype utility infielder, he can play three of the four positions, and he’s not a bad defender. If Gorman, Nolan Arenado, or Paul Goldschmidt need a day off, Carpenter could play first, second, or third depending on who needs to get off their feet for a day.
So, Carpenter does bring some value. His performance isn’t going to be near what it was when he was in his prime, but it would be unrealistic to expect that out of a 38-year-old towards the end of his career.
He’ll be a good teammate and leader and should help shift the clubhouse culture from the sad state it was in last season, even if he doesn’t fix the pitching issues.