Cardinals: Harrison Bader perhaps says goodbye to Matt Carpenter

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Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after being called out on strikes during the fifth inning of the Spring Training game against the Houston Astros at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 7, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after being called out on strikes during the fifth inning of the Spring Training game against the Houston Astros at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 7, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader perhaps says goodbye to Matt Carpenter, who is likely to play elsewhere in 2022.

Matt Carpenter says that he wants to play in 2022, but the odds of that coming in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform are slim to none. It’s a reality that he has accepted, with it being a guarantee that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak declines his $18.5 million club option.

It’s also a reality that his teammates are beginning to accept. Speaking with Bally Sports, outfielder Harrison Bader perhaps said his goodbye to Carpenter, 35, saying “I don’t know what his future holds with this organization, but Matt’s been such a good friend to me. … I just wish him the absolute best.”

Bader is one of many inside the Cardinals’ clubhouse who feel this way. While Carpenter is no longer the same MVP player he was only a few seasons ago, his imprint on the organization is unmistakable. In 11 seasons in St. Louis, he’s averaged .262/.368/.449 and hit 155 home runs and 576 RBI. He hit at least 21 home runs in four consecutive seasons in 2015-2018, hitting 36 homers and finishing ninth in the MVP race. He played all over the infield (except for shortstop) and even played the outfield, making him a valuable chess piece on the roster.

But it’s clearly time for Carpenter and the Cardinals to part ways. He averaged only .169/.305/.275 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 207 at-bats this season. He hit only .186/.325/.314 in a COVID-shortened 2020 season. It’s possible that he latches on with another organization, most likely on a minor-league deal, given his experience and 13.7 percent walk rate which is tied for 20th-best among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances.

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Carpenter has acknowledged as much. Now Bader has. All that we have to wait for is the formality of the Cardinals declining Carpenter’s club option, but that should come immediately after the World Series — putting an end to a very good career in St. Louis.

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