Matt Carpenter didn't exactly come out of nowhere last season, but his rise to MVP candidate was something of a surprise. The Cardinals seem to have an endless stream of players like Carpenter flowing out of their minor league system -- players with average expectations that somehow manage to become excellent, All Star-level contributors.
St. Louis locked up Allen Craig shortly after he burst onto the scene in 2012, and now, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold, the team is close to finalizing an extension with Carpenter.
Craig signed a five-year, $31 million deal that covered his remaining arbitration eligibility and bought out a season of his free agency.
The framework for Carpenter's deal appears as though it will be similar, although he stand to earn more because of his incredible 2013 season. St. Louis would be buying out his arbitration years and two years of free agency if the deal ends being a six-year pact.
At an average annual value of less than $10 million, the deal will almost certainly be considered a win for the Cards. Carpenter was worth seven wins last season, according to FanGraphs, and his positional flexibility allowed them to approach the offseason with some plasticity of their own. With Carpenter shifting to third to replace the departed David Freese, St. Louis can begin to introduce prospect Kolten Wong to an everyday role -- though they also signed Mark Ellis to ease the transition.
Carpenter, 28, has said he would be "grateful" if St. Louis offered him a long-term deal, and that playing for the Cardinals is his "dream job." He has a career .306/.381/.471 batting line in over 1,000 plate appearances and he finished fourth in NL MVP balloting last season after leading the league in hits, runs, and doubles.