In a series of moves made after the Winter Meetings, the Yankees lost one of their surprise hitters from 2022 in Matt Carpenter. He will join the San Diego Padres in a deal that guarantees him $12 million for 2023 and an additional $9 million if he picks up his player option for 2024. A big part of the Yankees’ hot start, Carpenter posted 217 Rs+ and hit 15 HRs in just 157 PAs, that’s 57 HR Ridiculous for every 600 PA. He was one of the best hitters in baseball when healthy, but a foot injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Carpenter played a large role in the Yankees’ historic start to the season, so they will have to transform internally to find strength for their lineup.
What’s next for the Yankees?
The Yankees remain engaged in the outside market, with Michael Conforto and Max Kepler surrounding most of those conversations. Robert Murray reports that they have some interest in Oakland A’s OF Seth Brown as well, so there is a definite desire for a left-handed batter in their lineup. Internally, they have Austin Wells waiting in the wings to deliver some left-handed pop at some point during the 2023 season.
It’s tough losing a powerhouse bat who provided a very good glimpse of the RF shortstop, but with a $12 million payroll toward the luxury tax, it’s a lot for Carpenter. They still have to maneuver around the contracts of Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks, and they still need to add another outfielder. Carpenter has likely been successful in finding consistent playing time due to his diminishing athleticism, as evidenced by their unwillingness to play him anywhere but RF and DH.
They’ll have to figure out their 2023 bench in the Series, but it’s a loss that shouldn’t weigh heavily on the Yankees. They would have won the division without Matt Carpenter, and still would have lost in the ALCS without Carpenter. The year 2023 revolves around Al-Shabaab, and they seem to be doing their best in the field of possibilities. It will be up to their internal development to recreate the impact Carpenter made on the bench, but it is certainly possible for this organization.
There are a lot of moves this team still has to make, and that may have taken the focus off bringing Carpenter back. The team is trying to get faster and more athletic, and bringing in an aging veteran with $12 million just doesn’t fit into that philosophy. While the Padres may try to get him to play the field again, it’s hard to imagine he can hold his own there. He could be a great fit for a Padres group that needs an HR powerhouse, but just isn’t a necessity for the Bronx Bombers.