Cardinals Rumors: Matt Carpenter wants to return in 2022
Matt Carpenter wants to return in 2022, but should the St. Louis Cardinals bring him back? The answer, simply, is no.
Matt Carpenter is in the midst of the worst season of his career, hitting .175/.306/.289 in 194 at-bats, and has an $18.5 million club option for next season that the St. Louis Cardinals are surely going to decline and make him a free agent.
But when that club option is declined, Carpenter intends to play in 2022 – whether that’s with the Cardinals or elsewhere, telling Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “I don’t know what the future holds for me as far as what [the Cardinals’] plans are, what the plans for me are,” says Carpenter. “I definitely want to play.”
Carpenter, 36 in November, has been on a sharp decline since his 36-homer season in 2018. He was an average at best hitter in 2019 and then hit 186/.325/.314 with 28.4 percent strikeout rate last season, producing a 79 OPS+. His OPS+ this season (68) is easily the worst of his career and underscores just how far he has fallen since that 2018 season.
Even at a significantly cheaper rate, the Cardinals should not pursue a Carpenter reunion in 2022. His defensive versatility – the ability to play all over the infield and in the outfield – is valuable. But his role has dwindled in the second half of this season, hitting .123/.265/.193 in 57 at-bats, and he is likely to see little-to-no action the remainder of the season, though his versatility should earn him a spot on the team’s wild card roster if they indeed make the postseason.
But Carpenter’s days with the Cardinals are numbered and his time in MLB could be as well. It’s possible that some team takes a flier on him on a minor-league deal in the offseason, but given his production (or lack thereof) this season, even that is no guarantee.