JUPITER, Fla. • Gesturing to a row of signature players sitting, in uniform, in the back of the press conference room Saturday, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. described the newest member of that Class of Cardinals and said he too could be with the club for his entire career.
Matt Carpenter has been cemented in the club's core.
"He's the type of player you'd like to think could finish his career as a Cardinal," DeWitt said.
In what's becoming an annual rite of spring, the Cardinals announced just that kind of deal with their third baseman Saturday.
The Cardinals and Carpenter moved toward finalizing a deal this past week and they announced Saturday that they had signed him to an additional six years. The deal will be worth $52 million and it does include a team option for the 2020 season worth $18.5 million. A source confirmed the total value of the deal this morning.
It will lock Carpenter in place with the organization through age 33, not including the option.
No other existing contract for the team goes as far into the future.
"For a baseball junky like myself, I can't think of a better place to play than St. Louis," Carpenter said at the press conference, which was held in a multipurpose room at the team's Roger Dean Stadium offices. "I still pinch myself every time I make that drive to the field. Playing in front of these fans, the city of St. Louis, Cardinal baseball as a whole -- it's so much fun. It's a privilege to put on this jersey. It's something I don't take lightly at all."
The press conference took a light-hearted turn when general manager John Mozeliak also pointed to the back of the room, where Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina sat. Holliday had his hand raised to ask a question.
He wondered if Carpenter could finally get his wife a car.
The two have been sharing one this spring, meaning that Carpenter's wife has had to drive him to the ballpark every morning between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. to have the car for the day.
Holliday suggested she deserved a chance to sleep in.
"Sacrifices have been made," Carpenter grinned.
Carpenter's six-year contract edges a similar deal Andrew McCutchen signed before the start of the 2012 season. The National League MVP agreed to a six-year, $51.5-million contract with the Pirates.
The negotiations and movement toward a deal was first reported late Wednesday night by The Post-Dispatch.
The contract covers all three years that Carpenter would be arbitration eligible and its guarantee covers two years of free agency. The option year would push back free agency three years beyond when Carpenter would have been eligible.
Carpenter left in the middle of Wednesday's game to have a physical -- standard protocol before the team and player agree on a long-term contract. Both sides confirmed that negotiations were ongoing. Sources indicated that a deal could be completed soon and announced some time today.
The media advisory landed before 8 a.m. St. Louis time.
Carpenter, 28, finished fourth in the voting for the MVP last season after his breakout summer as both leadoff hitter and second baseman. He led the National League in runs, doubles, and hits, coming one short of a 200-hit season. The lefthanded-hitting infielder will shift to third base for this season, but he's shown the ability to also play the outfield and first base, if needed.
The past three springs have seen the Cardinals extend contracts with core players like Wainwright and Craig (in 2013) and Molina (in 2012).
Conversations on an extension started back in August.
"Matt wanted to find a way to be a Cardinal for a long time and we certainly were energized to find a way to make that happen," Mozeliak said. "This was a unique negotiation because it was not one where we were sitting there debating all of Matt’s faults or his weaknesses. Because there weren’t any. He’s really a special person, not only on the field but off the field. Look at our core players he represents those exact same qualities."
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