The ending to Matt Carpenter’s 2022 season with the New York Yankees was abject proof that baseball, like life, isn’t fair. After Carpenter and his WB Mason mustache rejuvenated his career with one of the hottest summers on record, the team rushed him back from his foot fracture only to receive a piteous playoff run for their efforts.
On the flip side, though, the fresh start Carpenter’s receiving for 2023 and beyond stands as proof that sometimes, good things do happen to good people. They just don’t seem to happen often enough in a Yankee uniform.
The 2022 postseason could’ve been the cap on Carpenter’s comeback story, after his scorching run of 15 homers and a .305 average in 128 at-bats made him beloved in the Bronx. Instead, an out-of-rhythm Carpenter was an automatic strikeout, whiffing nine times in 12 plate appearances in a touching tribute to Joey Gallo.
If the Yankees were allowed to carry a 46-man roster with an endless budget, Carpenter would’ve been welcomed back for 2023.
In the roster’s current state, though, it’s not hard to see why Brian Cashman passed on guaranteeing $12 million over two years (which could escalate to $21 million) while passing the Steve Cohen Tax threshold just to add a bench bat who can’t help fill the left field vacancy.
Yankees icon Matt Carpenter leaves for $12 million guaranteed with Padres
Carpenter could be a great part-time Padre. He might’ve also peaked in 2022. No matter the end result, the Yankees never had a chance here after resurrecting his career on a minor-league flyer last season.
Well, actually, the Yanks don’t deserve full credit for the resurrection; they only opened the door. It was Carpenter’s rigorous offseason work, often alongside new Cardinals coach/his former teammate Matt Holliday, that allowed him to return to his previous peak and then exceed it.
No one — truly, no one this side of Shane Spencer — has ever had a Yankees stretch like Carpenter’s June and July. If you could add that at a Major League minimum to the 2023 roster, you do it in a heartbeat. His Aaron Judge impression made it so that was no longer an option.
There could be an alternate universe rippling alongside ours where Carpenter stood and received adoration all the way down the Canyon of Heroes, waving to the crowd while reminiscing about his Game 6 smash off David Robertson that secured the Yankees’ first championship since 2009. For those who watched him all summer long, it isn’t hard to envision.
In reality, though, the mighty Carp struck out at the tail end of last season — an awful lot — and forced Yankee fans to delay their magical visions of glory for an additional year.
No matter which version of Carpenter shows up in California, his two supersonic months with the Yankees clearly made a reunion impossible.