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.