Cards reward Carpenter with $63.5M extension

Updated: December 5, 2006, 10:50 AM ET
Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty looked at the price of pitching on the free-agent market and decided to throw his money at a guy he already had.

Starting Pitcher
St. Louis Cardinals

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA
32 15 8 43 184 3.09

The Cardinals announced a $63.5 million, five-year deal with 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter on Monday, locking him up through the 2011 season. The deal also includes a club option for 2012 that would bring the total value to $77.5 million.

"It was important for us to show what we think of him," Jocketty said on the first day of baseball's winter meetings.

Carpenter was 15-8 with a 3.09 ERA last season, finishing third in Cy Young balloting and helping the Cardinals win their first World Series title in 24 years. He was 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA in five postseason starts, including the clincher in the division series against the Padres and eight shutout innings in Game 3 of the World Series against the Tigers.

St. Louis has made the playoffs in each of his three years there, reaching the World Series twice.

"This is a place you're going to have an opportunity to win every year," Carpenter said during a conference call with reporters stationed at the meetings outside of Orlando. "Winning the World Series is the best feeling I've ever had playing sports. I'd love to do it again."

Carpenter had been signed for $7 million in 2007 , a deal that included an $8 million option for '08. But with pitchers such as Adam Eaton getting more than $8 million per year from the Phillies, Carpenter might have made more if he pitched out his contract and hit the free-agent market.

"I don't know how much is enough," he said. "I'm comfortable here, my family's comfortable here, and we have an opportunity to win here."

His new deal calls for salaries of $8.5 million in 2007, $10.5 million in 2008, $14 million in 2009, $14.5 million in 2010 and $15 million in 2011. The Cardinals have a $15 million option for 2012 with a $1 million buyout.

Carpenter led the NL with a 1.81 ERA at home last season, and was tied for the league lead with three shutouts overall. In three years with St. Louis he is 51-18 with a 3.10 ERA in 93 starts and the Cardinals are 65-27, a winning percentage of .707, during that span.

His 36 victories the last two seasons are tied for first in the major leagues with Jon Garland of the Chicago White Sox.

"Chris is one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball," Cardinals chairman William O. DeWitt said. "In addition to becoming just the second Cardinal to win a Cy Young Award, Chris has been the leader of our pitching staff and we are pleased that he will continue in that role for the next five seasons."

The Cardinals signed Carpenter as a free agent in 2003 even though he was recovering from shoulder surgery, and he missed that entire season. He rewarded them with a 15-win season in 2004 before a biceps injury knocked him out of the postseason.

"It's an honor. It's nice to know they believe in me this much to keep me around for five more years," he said. "Any security is good security, no matter how long it is. Getting here from the situation I've been in, it's a great feeling. It lets you relax and concentrate on what you need to do, and that's relax and pitch. There's no other worry."

Jocketty said taking a chance on Carpenter and Jeff Suppan made the championship possible. Suppan, the MVP of the NL Championship Series, was originally signed for two years and $6 million.

"We wouldn't have had the success we've had if we hadn't signed those guys," he said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press