Cardinals News: St. Louis declines Martinez, Carpenter options

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Carlos Martinez #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after an apparent arm injury while pitching against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 4, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Carlos Martinez #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after an apparent arm injury while pitching against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 4, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The Cardinals have declined Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter’s 2022 options, making the two free agents.

As written this morning, the St. Louis Cardinals were expected to decline Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter’s club options. Only a few hours later, the team made it official, with the MLBPA announcing that the two became free agents on Thursday afternoon.

Carpenter, almost 36, had an $18.5 million club option ($2 million buyout) while Martinez had a $17 million club option ($500,000 buyout). The moves, which had been obvious all season, saved the Cardinals $33 million — and will afford them significant additional payroll room to pursue upgrades throughout the roster.

The loss of Martinez will make the Cardinals front office happy. Years ago, he signed a five-year, $51 million contract extension to be a prominent name in their rotation. Instead, he was a frustrating figure who struggled and dealt with a variety of injuries. By the end of the 2021 season, the Cardinals had had enough and had already made up their mind that he would not be back in 2022. That decision, however, may have been made at the trade deadline, with the front office aggressively shopping Martinez and not finding any suitors — to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Parting ways with Carpenter, however, is a loss that will be felt in the clubhouse. He made three All-Star teams and received MVP votes, most notably a fourth-place finish in 2013. However, his play has been on a steady decline in recent seasons, hitting only .176/.313/.291 and striking out almost 30 percent of the time since 2020.

Next. 5 pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals could target this offseason. dark

While Martinez is guaranteed not to be back, the door is potentially open for Carpenter to return on a minor-league contract. He will seek an invitation to spring training and an opportunity to make a team’s roster out of camp, but given his performance this season, that is no guarantee. His defensive versatility increases those chances, but it’s unlikely that he can be more than a bench option for a team moving forward.

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