Get ready for another majestic beard to be lopped off, because the New York Yankees have come to terms with a three-time All-Star at the tail end of his career out of absolutely nowhere.
Former St. Louis Cardinals stalwart Matt Carpenter has always felt like an interesting Yankee target, representing the model that many fans thought the Bombers should “get back to” during their “home run or bust” era.
High OBP? Check. Moderately high average? Check. Versatility? Absolutely. Pop? Sure! Four seasons over 20 homers, including a breakout 36 bombs in 2018 before the regression came. Hardware? Not quite, but three top-15 MVP finishes including two in the top 10.
Rugged attitude? Yeah, we perceived it! Carpenter has always seemed like a gamer and de facto leader of some great Cardinals teams. Now, at the back end of his career, he’ll get one last chance to fill a big-league role with a Yankees team desperate for lineup help.
One day after the fan base was assured DJ LeMahieu’s wrist checked out alright, the Yankees dropped a bomb on their roster before facing off with the Rays, signing Carpenter to a big-league contract, assigning him No. 24, and getting this crazy train rolling.
No minor-league stint. No battle for at-bats. Here you go, Carp, you’re on.
Yankees sign ex-Cardinals IF Matt Carpenter — What it means for DJ LeMahieu
Naturally, Yankee fans went into panic mode assuming the worst about LeMahieu — and it’s quite possible there’s at least a 15-day IL stint still to come. The Yankees have a super-thin bench as is without Josh Donaldson, with Marwin Gonzalez and Miguel Andújar assuming recent everyday duty. Carpenter can help float around the infield, and it’s possible the team just didn’t like their existing options after the injury hand they were dealt.
Carpenter has not hit much since that fateful 2018 season, but his minor-league numbers at Triple-A for the Rangers this season indicate he may be primed to bounce back (somewhat). In 80 at-bats (in the hitter-friendly PCL, but still), Carpenter hit .275, rocked six dingers, OBP’d .379 and posted an excellent .992 OPS.
If all this is Carpenter’s reward for hitting a powerless .226, .186, and .169 the past three seasons in St. Louis, it’ll all be worth it.
And he’ll be joined in Tampa by Manny Banuelos, elevated from the Taxi Squad on Thursday to join the active roster, too.
To think Banuelos’ MLB return wouldn’t be the most shocking Yankees news of the day.
Carpenter deserves some reps by the end of this series, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be out of this depleted lineup beyond Thursday.