St. Louis Cardinals: Don’t expect Matt Carpenter in the outfield

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 16: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals grounds out in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during game one of a doubleheader at Miller Park on September 16, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 16: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals grounds out in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during game one of a doubleheader at Miller Park on September 16, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Matt Carpenter doesn’t have a position for the 2021 season, but don’t expect him starting in the outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Before the Nolan Arenado trade, Matt Carpenter was lined up to get the bulk of the starts at third base for the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, he is a man without a starting position in the final year of his contract with St. Louis.

Spring training has begun and pitchers and catchers have reported, meaning Mike Shildt has begun his early-season media sessions.

On Thursday morning, he was asked about Matt Carpenter and whether or not he may make a return to the outfield, a place he has experience.

At the age of 35, it doesn’t make much sense to move Carpenter back out to the outfield for the first time since 2014 when he was 28.

While Carpenter would instantly become the longest-tenured and most experienced member of the outfield, the group of five young players out there will at least provide solid defense. The same can’t be said about Carpenter.

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As Derrick Goold mentioned, Carpenter does have more than 100 career innings in the outfield, but it’s almost reassuring to hear that a return isn’t on the table. While there is no doubt that Matt Carpenter would work his tail off to make a move back to the outfield work, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

It appears that Carpenter’s role is going to be limited to a sort of utility man off the bat, with the option to expand if he can earn it. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are not going to take many breaks at the corner infield spots and Carpenter’s defense won’t stand close to Tommy Edman’s at second. Unless there is a DH, it’s going to be tough for Carpenter to find at-bats.

While this is a sad truth for Carpenter fans, the lefty hasn’t earned more playing time in the past two seasons, averaging an OPS+ of 89.

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It’s sad that Matt Carpenter’s career is where it is right now, but he can still be a valuable (if expensive) pinch hitter and utility man. Just don’t look for him out in a corner outfield spot.

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