Yankees lose slugger Matt Carpenter to West Coast team

matt carpenter, new york yankees
Aug 5, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Carpenter (24) salutes the fans as he receives a standing ovation before his first at bat during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In the flurry of moves made after the Winter Meetings, the Yankees lose one of their surprise sluggers from 2022 in Matt Carpenter. He’ll be joining the San Diego Padres on a deal that guarantees him $12 million for 2023 and an extra $9 million if he takes his player option for 2024. A huge part of the Yankees hot start, Carpenter posted a 217 wRC+ and hit 15 HRs in just 157 PAs, a ridiculous 57 HR per 600 PA pace. He was one of the best hitters in baseball when he was healthy, but a foot injury sidelined him until the postseason.

Carpenter played a huge role in the Yankees historic start to the season, so they’ll have to turn internally to find power for their lineup.

What’s Next For the Yankees?

The Yankees remain engaged in the corner outfield market, with Michael Conforto and Max Kepler surrounding most of those conversations. Robert Murray reported they have some interest in Oakland A’s OF Seth Brown as well, so there’s a definite desire for a left-handed bat in their lineup. Internally, they have Austin Wells waiting in the wings to provide some left-handed pop at some point during the 2023 season.

Austin Wells, New York Yankees
Feb 21, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees catcher Austin Wells (62) at Yankees player development complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tough losing a power bat who profiled extremely well for the short porch in RF, but with how high the payroll is $12 million towards the Luxury Tax is a lot for Carpenter. They still have to maneuver around the Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks contracts, and they still need to add another outfielder. Carpenter would most likely have struggled to find consistent playing time due to his diminishing athleticism, as shown by their unwillingness to play him anywhere but RF and DH.

They’ll have to figure out their bench for 2023 in their flurry of moves, but it’s a loss that shouldn’t massively dampen the Yankees. They would have won the division without Matt Carpenter, and they still would’ve lost in the ALCS without Carpenter. 2023 is all about the youth movement, and it seems they’re are pushing all their chips in prospect-wise. It’ll come down to their internal development to re-create the impact Carpenter had on the bench, but it’s certainly possible for this organization.

There’s a lot of moves this team still has to make, and that probably took emphasis away from bringing back Carpenter. The team’s trying to get faster and more athletic, and bringing in an aging veteran at $12 million doesn’t fit this philosophy. While the Padres may try to get him to play the infield again, it’s hard to imagine he can hold his own out there. He could be a great fit for a Padres lineup in need of HR power, but just not a necessity for the Bronx Bombers.