Chris Carpenter’s loyalty to Cardinals led to extension

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Yesterday the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter announced a two-year, $21 million contract extension that takes the place of a $15 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2012.

Even at age 35 he remains one of the best starters in the league and either through the $15 million option or free agency Carpenter likely could have gotten more than $21 million between 2012 and 2013.

However, during his press conference the former Cy Young winner explained that he never wanted to leave St. Louis and felt a strong sense of loyalty to the Cardinals for giving him an opportunity after injuries had derailed his career:

It’s about being a St. Louis Cardinal for the rest of my career. They have done a ton for me and my family. They’ve stuck with me through times when I’ve been hurt. … I wasn’t excited about jumping around to different organizations if I wanted to continue to play. My wife has been a huge support for me and I know it excites her to be able to stay here also.

It seems likely that the Cardinals would have exercised his $15 million option for 2012 had Carpenter balked at an extension, so he likely saved them $4.5 million for next season in addition to signing on for a reasonable $10.5 million salary in 2013.

That doesn’t qualify him for sainthood or anything–after all, Carpenter has already earned about $65 million during his career–but it’s always nice to see a player decide he’d rather have $21 million and stay where he’s enjoyed playing rather than go elsewhere for, say, $25 million. Too often those type of decisions seem driven by an amount of money that will have zero tangible impact on the player’s life.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.