Matt Carpenter may have played last game at Busch Stadium, perhaps putting the end to a storied St. Louis Cardinals career.
With the Cardinals set to face the Dodgers in Los Angeles in a winner-take-all wild card game, there is a real chance they have played their last game in St. Louis this season. If that is indeed the case, it would perhaps mark the end to Matt Carpenter’s time in St. Louis.
What a tenure it was.
Carpenter, 35, finished in the top-10 in MVP voting twice. He led baseball in doubles (55) in 2013. He had a heroic season in 2018, hitting .257/.374/.523 with 36 home runs and 81 RBI, and became a Cardinals legend because of it. If Sunday was indeed his final regular season game in St. Louis, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, he finished in the top-five in team history in home runs (155), walks (699) and doubles (361).
Of course, Carpenter has an $18.5 million club option for next season. There is no chance the Cardinals pick it up, considering that he hit .169/.305/.275 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 249 plate appearances. They will pay the $2 million buyout and make him a free agent.
Carpenter has previously stated that he wants to play in 2022, but he will likely have to take a minor-league deal this winter. Even then, it’s possible the Cardinals are not interested – he has been that bad in 2021 – and is hardly a valuable player off the bench despite his defensive versatility. After all, he’s hit only .114/.271/.171 in 70 at-bats in the second half of the regular season.
However, Carpenter will have a role on the Cardinals’ wild card roster. Goold says the team plans to have Carpenter be a left-handed bat on the bench — perhaps setting him up for a key moment in the biggest game of the season.
Carpenter is no stranger for such moments — and how fitting would it be if he was a postseason hero for the Cardinals one more time?