Matt Carpenter’s Cardinals career doesn’t have to be over

Matt Carpenter has plenty of history with the St. Louis Cardinals. Could he return to the team in 2023 after reviving his career with the New York Yankees?

Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB draft, the Cardinals were the only franchise that Carpenter knew through the first 11 seasons of his big league career. However, after a three-year span between 2019 and 2021 where Carpenter slashed just .203/.325/.346 in 910 plate appearances, Carpenter and the Cardinals parted ways as he chose free agency before the 2022 campaign.

The 36-year-old Carpenter and the Texas Rangers, the first team he landed with after leaving the Cardinals, weren’t a good match and the Rangers released him in mid-May after playing in just 21 Triple-A games. Later in May, however, Carpenter signed a contract with the New York Yankees and has quickly made a mark in the Bronx, slashing .305/.412/.727 with 15 home runs and 37 RBI in 154 plate appearances while playing four different positions in the field.

Carpenter has been a solid find for the Yankees as the franchise hopes to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009, but could a return to St. Louis happen next season?

Matt Carpenter back with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2023?

In May, the Yankees and Carpenter agreed to a deal that lasts through the end of this season, meaning he will be on the market once this season comes to a close. While he has made an impact for the Yankees, there’s no question that Cardinals fans have a special place in their hearts for what he has meant to the Redbirds, as evidenced by the standing ovation given to him when the Yankees visited St. Louis in early August.

Carpenter admitted during his return to St. Louis that he still keeps up with his Cardinal teammates, telling The Athletic, “I’m tuned in watching the guys and checking every box score, pulling for them.” Additionally, Carpenter said of St. Louis, “It’ll always be home and it’ll always be family. It’ll always be the greatest place ever.”

With words like that, it’s certainly possible that a reunion with St. Louis would make sense for Carpenter next offseason, especially as he enters into his age-37 season and likely plans for the end of his career in the not-so-distant future. The Cardinals were willing to reunite with Albert Pujols this season and find a place for him on the active roster, and the same could certainly happen with Carpenter.

Of course, it’s possible that, depending on how the rest of this season plays out, the Yankees would make an offer to Carpenter to keep him around as a veteran bat and voice in the clubhouse, as well as a player who has already shown he can handle the pressure of donning the pinstripes.

“It’s one of the greatest franchises in the history of sports, and it’s just an amazing place to play,” Carpenter said about the Yankees during his return to St. Louis. “I’m so thrilled to get the chance to put on the uniform and get to be a part of something so special.”

It’s likely that the Yankees could be the only team to keep Carpenter from a Cardinals reunion next season should both St. Louis and Carpenter be interested in a second chance. However, knowing his passion for his former team, don’t be surprised if Carpenter and the Cardinals find a way to have him return to the Gateway City.

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