Cardinals sign Matt Carpenter
The Cardinals continued to emphasize leadership in the dugout by signing longtime Cardinal Matt Carpenter to a league-minimum salary of $740,000 for one year. The team hopes Carpenter will provide another jolt to the clubhouse culture, as John Mozeliak said Carpenter is "synonymous with winning."
The Cardinals will be in trouble if they have to play Carpenter too much. The former star his just .176 with the San Diego Padres in 2023, and it's unclear where his at-bats will come from. Carpenter, 38, is no longer capable of playing in the infield regularly, and the designated hitter role should primarily be filled by Nolan Gorman and Alec Burleson, with Willson Contreras also spending time at the position when not behind the plate.
An additional concern is that Carpenter's presence could block young talent from making a splash in the major leagues. The Cardinals' farm system, while not up to par with those of the other teams in the upstart National League Central division, still has players with promise who could benefit from major league experience but are more likely to spend potentially unnecessary time in the minor leagues given the lack of room on the big league roster.
It's worth wondering whether the addition of Carpenter is somewhat redundant with fellow 2011 champions Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso also on board in coaching roles. Carpenter could be another valuable resource to the players, but his production on the field is unlikely to benefit the team. On the bright side, if Carpenter plays too poorly for the Cardinals to stomach, the team can let him go and easily digest his small contract.