On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals nailed one of their big bat goals. The trade for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt also means third base is finally settled after a year of rumors.
The St. Louis Cardinals acquired All Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on Thursday in exchange for catcher Carson Kelly, pitcher Luke Weaver, and minor league infielder Andy Young. The trade also included a compensation pick in the 2019 draft.
Goldschmidt is the middle of the lineup bat the Cardinals have been looking for, and his addition fills a variety of gaps in the Cardinals lineup. One of the issues resolved by Goldschmidt’s arrival, albeit indirectly, is who will play third base in 2019. Matt Carpenter and his weak shoulder will likely be moved to the left side of the infield to make room for Goldschmidt at his natural position.
Finally, the ‘who will play third base?’ saga that has gone on for the last year has ended. For better or for worse, Matt Carpenter will be the third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019.
Matt goes back to third
Matt Carpenter goes back to where he started with the St. Louis Cardinals. On June 4, 2011, Carpenter made his major league debut starting at third base (and batting seventh). In his short stint with the major league team, he played five games at third and returned to the minors.
The 33-year old Carpenter made the major league club coming out of spring training in 2012 and played a total of 114 games, 33 were at third. In his eight year career, Carpenter has played 528 games at third, the most at any position he has played while in St. Louis.
The right-handed Carpenter, has played 309 games at first, 212 games at second, and 25 games in the outfield, and has been one of the only left-handed bat in the lineup throughout his tenure.
Third base would have to be considered Carpenter’s strongest defensive position. His eight year defensive metrics show a Rtot of 1 and a Rdrs of -1. His efficiency wasn’t any more flattering, registering a Rtot/year and Rdrs/year of 0.
In fact, the 76 games he played at third in 2018 turned out to be the strongest defensive effort of his career, weak shoulder and all. He registered a Rtot of 2, a Rdrs of 6, a Rtot/yr of 4, and Rdrs/yr of 13. Keep in mind Rtot and Rdrs, are defensive metrics that measures a player’s value based on total number plays made, so Carpenter not only held down the fort, he made some plays happen while manning third.
So what does this mean?
Matt Carpenter will be the St. Louis Cardinals everyday third baseman going into the 2019 season. There will be no Mike Moustakas, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, or anyone else playing third. As it stands now, Carpenter will be backed up by Jedd Gyorko, Patrick Wisdom, and Yairo Munoz.
Barring a major trade, the Cardinals opening day infield will be Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong, Carpenter, and Yadier Molina. Generally, not bad. However, the thought of Matt Carpenter making those long throws from third to first for 140 to 150 games next year, gives some Cardinals fans…let’s just say, concerns (editor’s note: more like nightmares).
Hopefully, with a three-time gold glove at first, Carpenter’s return as a full-time third baseman will be more positive than negative. We’ll see. But for now, the rumors for third base have come to an end. Let those rumors shift to the bullpen and Bryce Harper.