One week following his release from the Texas Rangers minor league system, the 11-year MLB legend Matt Carpenter signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees last Thursday.
Wasting no time, Carpenter told Yankees manager Aaron Boone that he was prepared to assist no matter the situation. “If you want me to load the bags on the plane, that’s what I’ll do,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter was positioned in the line-up for a series opener at Tampa Bay when Aaron Hicks was side-lined before game time.
“It happened fast, and now I’m here, and I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Carpenter said during his meeting with Boone at Tropicana Field.
“We just had a quick conversation about it, but my response to him is that I’m excited to put a uniform on and be part of the best team in baseball right now,” Carpenter continued. “I’m just fired up to be here. I’m going to hit the ground running.”
And then, just hours following the Yankees’ announcement of signing him, he was added to the starting line-up that was completed after reaching base twice and scoring a pair of runs in a 7-2 success over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It was pretty crazy,” Carpenter said, after seeing 25 pitches in four plate appearances, getting hit by a pitch and drawing a walk. “To get here and be in the line-up right away – I don’t think I land until 2:30, so it happened fast, but it was a lot of fun. Huge win. It was good to be a part of, pretty cool.”
With the continuous injury struggles in New York, the addition of Carpenter to the Yankees squad will see a well-experienced left-handed batter off the bench. Boone called Carpenter a “catalyst” after Thursday’s win and highlighted that the former Cardinal could see some time spent at first and third base.
Following a .169 with a .581 OPS in 130 games for the Cardinals last season, Carpenter worked on his swing during the offseason and was batting .275 with a .991 OPS at Triple-A this year,
“My swing felt as good as it’s felt in years,” Carpenter said. “I was able to put in a lot of good work in the offseason and see it translate. Obviously, it’s Triple-A pitching, but with what I was able to feel and things I could have clicked for me, I was really encouraged by it. That led to what happened here. I’m excited that this opportunity presented itself.”
36-year-old Carpenter was one of the best sluggers during his tenure in St. Louis. He boasted above-average numbers between 2012 and 2018, collecting a triple-threat of All-Star awards along the way. He picked up the Silver Slugger award in 2013 and landed in the top ten of NL MVP balloting on two occasions. In 2018, Carpenter finished with a .257/.374/.523 and 36 home runs.
Unfortunately, as the Cardinals stand out entered his 30s, his career performances hit a severe decline. St. Louis brought him out at the end of last season, limiting him to minor league selections during the winter. Not to be deterred, Carpenter knew a reinvention of himself was necessary before signing a non-roster pact with the Rangers.
In 21 games with Triple-A Round Rock, Carpenter landed six home runs with continuous free passes behind a .275/.379/.613. While the Rangers didn’t show interest in moving Carpenter to the big leagues, the Yankees are allowing him to translate his minors results to MLB pitching.
Carpenter Home Run
April 30, 2021, until last week, this was the last time Carpenter homered in a major league game.
But in his second appearance since signing with the Yankees, the former Cardinals man went deep for his new team during a 2-0 success over Tampa Bay. Caesars New York sportsbook offered insanely priced odds on the MLB veteran to hit a home run, and those fortunate to take a chance with the Yankees’ latest arrival would have made significant profits.
The Yankees have been the team to wager on this season, winning 36 of their 51 games and currently sitting on top of the AL East. No other team has lost fewer games than New York’s finest, making the Yankees the most in-form team in the entire MLB.
Carpenter is a fine addition to assist the Yankees with their injury concerns. After reaching base twice in his first two games, he’s already proving his worth in a line-up that’s undergone numerous injuries.
“Anytime you go from your living room to the best team in baseball, it’s pretty good,” Carpenter said.
The home run, a solo shot to right in the top of the fourth, resulted from Carpenters’ dedication to fixing his career downtrend.
“It felt good,” Carpenter added. “I grinded hard in the offseason to try to fix [my swing]. I spent two months playing in Triple-A, and the hard work is paying off.”
When the Yankees line-up recovers from their health concerns, manager Boone mentioned that Carpenter could still play a crucial role for the team. Boone said the Yankees had a close eye on Carpenter earlier in the season.
“Potentially, we think he still has a lot to offer from the left side of the plate,” Boone said. “We’re intrigued by what he can do. He’s been on our radar the last couple of months; we’ve been eyeing him for a while as a left-handed bat off the bench. Just a professional guy from the left side, and we feel he can help us.”
Carpenter has received a $1 million salary for his major league services and $200,000 while in the minors. And although we’re early into his Yankees career, he’s already proving the doubters wrong and has the potential to become a top hitter off the bench.