Grading the St. Louis Cardinals' signing of Matt Carpenter

The Cardinals have signed Matt Carpenter. In this piece, we'll grade the signing and discuss how it impacts the team.
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

On Friday, the Cardinals made an interesting move, and one that isn't exactly popular.

The Cardinals have signed Matt Carpenter, bringing back a friendly face and former All-Star.

While Carpenter was a fan favorite during his time in St. Louis and will be yet again, the move is a puzzling one. The slugger is 38 years old and coming off a dreadful season with the Padres in which he hit just .176 with 5 home runs and 31 RBI.

In this piece, we'll grade the signing and discuss how it impacts the team heading into the 2024 season.

Grading the Carpenter signing

Let me be clear. I love Matt Carpenter. He was one of my favorites during his time as a Cardinal and a big part of me is very happy to see him return.

But while my heart is happy, this move really doesn't make sense in my head. As we mentioned above, Carpenter had an awful season with the Padres and was ultimately traded to the Braves, who subsequently released him.

He's 38 years old and well past his prime. I can only imagine that this was a move made purely out of sentiment. Carpenter is the fourth member of the 2013 World Series team to return in some capacity, joining Daniel Descalso, Lance Lynn, and Yadier Molina, so it sort of seems like John Mozeliak is making an effort to get the band back together.

As much as I loved that team, I don't think this is a good idea. That was 11 years ago. The Cardinals haven't been to the World Series since then. Several of the stars from that team are either no longer playing or well past their prime.

While Carpenter will obviously not be an everyday player, this is yet another case of the Cardinals banking on hope. They're obviously hopeful that he'll replicate his 2022 success with the Yankees.

However, there are positives to take away from this. If nothing else, Carpenter is a veteran presence that young players can lean on and he's going to be a clubhouse leader that holds everybody accountable. So, from an intangible standpoint, it's quite a good move. His knowledge will make everybody around him better.

But from a performance standpoint, I don't think we can expect a whole lot out of Carpenter this year. He's clearly not the player he once was.

Granted, with all the young players on the Cardinals roster, he's not going to get a whole lot of playing time, so the Cardinals don't need him to set the world on fire. But when James Naile was traded to clear out a roster spot, this is not what I had in mind in terms of filling that spot.

Fortunately, the deal is worth just $740K, according to Ken Rosenthal. which is close to the league minimum, making this a very team-friendly deal.

Still, I really feel like this is more of a sentimental move than one that will actually help the Cardinals get better.

That's what they need. There are plenty of pitchers available and a slot to fill in the bullpen. It would've been better if the Cardinals chose to focus on pitching with today's move.