Matt Carpenter’s career renaissance in the Bronx was unfortunately a short one. Per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the veteran lefty bat has signed with the San Diego Padres.
The Padres and Matt Carpenter have agreed to a deal for 2023 with a player option for the 2024 season, per a source. Carpenter will play something of a utility role in San Diego — some 1B, LF, RF, DH and potentially backup 2B and 3B as well.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) December 20, 2022
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic added Carpenter will earn $12 million in 2023, and his option plus incentives could up the deal’s value to $21 million. Not bad for someone who was almost entirely out of baseball a year ago, right?
Matt Carpenter had an almost movie-like rebirth with the Yankees last year. A simple change in his swing mechanics saw him bat .305 with 15 home runs and 37 RBI in just 154 plate appearances over 47 games. Carpenter also posted an astounding 1.138 OPS after batting a meager .203 the previous three years.
Unfortunately, his miraculous comeback was cut short when he fouled a ball off his foot and broke it. He returned for the ALCS, but clearly wasn’t healthy yet.
Now, Matt Carpenter will hope shifting to pure pull/power hitting follows him out of Yankee Stadium. San Diego’s Petco Park does not have the Bronx’s friendly short porch in right field, 382 feet compared to 314 feet. The hard contact and swing might be there, but it won’t be surprising to see what were home runs in New York become outs in California.
On the plus side, the Padres are ready to run it back and Matt Carpenter can help them. He not only played in the 2013 World Series with the Cardinals, but his St. Louis teams were regularly in the playoff race. On a young San Diego team featuring Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr., his veteran status should stabilize the clubhouse.
The downside is that the Yankees are losing that same leadership that almost channeled former fan favorite Brett Gardner. This is a significant loss. We even covered how re-signing Carpenter should be one of New York’s offseason priorities.
Yet, the Padres were willing to pay more to win now, even if Matt Carpenter is 37 and past his prime. The Yankees will just need to find another lefty bench bat to slug homers and rally the team together.