Cardinals announce two-year, $21 million contract extension with Chris Carpenter

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Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported late Sunday night that Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals had agreed to a two-year, $21 million contract extension and now it’s official.

General manager John Mozeliak has called a press conference to announce the deal, which takes the place of Carpenter’s $15 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2012 and will keep the former Cy Young winner in St. Louis through his age-38 season.

Carpenter’s current 3.75 ERA is his highest since joining the Cardinals in 2003, but he ranks fourth among NL pitchers with 206 innings and has the league’s ninth-best FIP at 3.13. Making multi-year commitments to any pitcher Carpenter’s age is a risk, but this is a no-brainer move for the Cardinals as they enter an offseason full of crucial decisions.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.