The Cardinals give Chris Carpenter a two-year extension

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the Cardinals have agreed to a two-year contract extension with starter Chris Carpenter.  The amount: $21 million.  There are still some details to be worked out, but the money and other important parts of the deal are in place.  It should be formally announced later this week.

This is good for the Cardinals for two reason: (1) it locks up the leader of their rotation for two years; and (2) assuming it’s a straight $10.5 million a year, it frees up roughly $4.5 million inasmuch as the Cards had a $15 million option on Carpenter for 2012. I mean, I guess it frees it up. They could have always not exercised the option and saved even more, but someone has to pitch for these guys.

Either way, it certainly disposes of an important piece of business prior to an offseason when all of their energies — and dollars — are going to be needed to either sign Albert Pujols or scramble to fill the void his departure would create.

Nyjer Morgan could not be reached for comment.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.