Padres sign Matt Carpenter

The Padres added some punches to their lineup on Tuesday, reportedly agreeing to a two-year, $12 million contract with a veteran outfielder/outfielder. Matt Carpenter. Carpenter, a client of SSG Baseball, can opt out of the contract after the 2023 season by declining the 2024 player option. The contract pays Carpenter a $3 million signing bonus and a $3.5 million salary for the 2023 campaign, and he will have to decide on a $5.5 million player option next winter. He can also reportedly earn $500,000 bonuses for making 300, 350, 400, 450, 500 and 550 plate appearances in both seasons of the decade.

Carpenter, who turned 37 last month, enjoyed one of the most impressive rebounding campaigns in recent memory last season. Carpenter, a three-time All-Star with the Cardinals, seemed to be in swing as he posted a combined hitting streak of .176/.313/.291 in 418 games with St. Louis from 2020-21.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic detailed the way Carpenter has reinvented himself, taking a data-driven approach to whacking and bagging commentary from the likes of Joy PhotoAnd the Matt Holliday and a private hitting coach where he totally revamped his swing and approach at the plate. The Rangers were intrigued enough to sign him to a minor league contract.

We often see stories of veterans making changes late in their careers, but few have found the level of success Carpenter has enjoyed. 613 in 21 games with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, Carpenter was released by the Texans (oops) and signed a major league deal with the Yankees, for whom he posted a borderline comedy of .305/. 412 / .727 slash. Carpenter mashed 15 home runs in just 154 plate appearances, and while he was certainly somewhat buoyed by Yankee Stadium’s dimensions, he still beat six of those round runners and hit .253/.333/.506 on the road.

Simply put – and in somewhat astonishing fashion – Carpenter was baseball’s best hitter on average in 2022 (at least 100 plate appearances). He led all of baseball in slugging percentage, home runs (hits minus batting average) and wRC+ (217), second only to Aaron Judge in on-base percentage, and posted the 12th-best batting average of any player in a game . Carpenter’s average for “barreled” balls (as defined by Statcast) was elite, and his average out pace and strikeout rate were comfortably north of the league average. There’s no realistic way to expect him to keep up that pace, but Carpenter has clearly put himself back on the map as a solid hitter in the league.

Unfortunately for both team and player, a reinvigorated Carpenter missed a ball on his foot in early August, resulting in a fracture that wiped out the remainder of his regular season. The rusty Carpenter predictably jumped right back into the Yankees playoffs roster but went 1-for-12 with an upsetting nine strikeouts between the ALDS and ALCS.

With the Padres, Carpenter has become a favorite to DH work, though the Yankees have played him in both corner field slots and in both outfield positions in 2022. He has also scored more than 1,900 runs at second base in his career, despite the defensive metrics His limited work there in 2021 has been ugly, to say the least. However, it can serve as an option there in case of an emergency.

The agreement with Carpenter pushes the Padres to more than $246 million in actual cash payroll for the 2023 season and up the luxury tax ledger to nearly $267 million, as projected by Roster Resource. The Padres are already in Tier 2 penalties, and given that they are entering their third consecutive season on the luxury line, they are taxed at a rate of 62% on every dollar in Category II ($253 million to $273 million). As such, Carpenter would cost them an additional $3.72 million in taxes for the 2023 campaign.

AJ Cassavell from first reported The two sides agreed to a deal with the option of 2024 players. Terms and financial details have been reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links).

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