ST. LOUIS–While it was not a surprise, the St. Louis Cardinals have declined 2022 options on infielder Matt Carpenter and pitcher Carlos Martinez, likely ending the St. Louis careers of two players who were on the team’s last World Series team.
Their names now appear on the list of free agents put out by the MLB Players Association.
The decisions in both cases have been widely expected in baseball circles. Carpenter, 35, is coming off his first full season as a major league player when he primarily came off the bench, producing a career-low .169 batting average along with career lows in slugging (.275), OPS (.581) RBI (21) and HR (3).
The Cardinals signed Carpenter to a 2 year, $39 million deal in 2019, after he produced an MVP-vote worthy 36 home run campaign in 2018 that included a team-record six straight games with round trippers.
But his performance tailed off quickly in 2019, as pronounced defensive shifts and a hitting approach that did not seem to adjust to them resulted in sapped power production and reduced table-setting from atop the lineup.
Carpenter first saw action in 6 big league games in 2011, the last season the Cardinals won the World Series trophy. His first full season in 2012 saw him garner a top 6 finish in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. In 2013 he was a vital offensive cog for the team which won the NL pennant, leading all of baseball in hits (199), runs (126) and doubles (55).
After parts of 11 seasons in St. Louis, Carpenter is among the franchise’s top 25 players in most offensive categories, including 6th all-time in walks (699).
The Cardinals will owe Carpenter a $2 million buyout.
Martinez, 30, exits after an enigmatic 9 year run in St. Louis marked by bursts of masterful pitching, injuries, and questions about the rigor he applied to the work to come back from them. He made his debut as part of the 2013 World Series team and became a full-fledged starter in 2015, when he began a three-year stretch that saw him go 42-27 with two all-star game appearances.
He signed a 5 year, $51 million dollar deal after the 2016 season, which included club options in 2022 and 2023 for $17 million and $18 million respectively.
But since May of 2018, Martinez has been on the injured list seven times with an assortment of injuries to his right shoulder, right oblique, and right lat, among others. In 2021, he injured his ankle while celebrating a Jack Flaherty home run in May. He was lost for the season with a torn thumb ligament in July.
In nine seasons, he had a 62-52 record with a career 3.74 ERA. On the club’s all-time list he’s number one with 8.63 strikeouts per nine innings.
Martinez will get a $500,000 buyout.
It is possible, but unlikely one or both could return to the team on a reduced contract with an opportunity to make the club out of Spring Training.
The official announcement means Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are the only members of the 2013 World Series squad still on the St. Louis roster.