The Cardinals and ace Chris Carpenter have agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $21MM that will provide the right-hander with additional security and provide the Cardinals with a productive starter for two more seasons.

Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported the move on Sunday and the Cardinals have now announced it.

Carpenter, 36, was in the final guaranteed year of the five-year, $63.5MM deal he signed before the 2007 season. The team held a $15MM club option for his services next year, but Strauss says the option is rolled into a longer structure that saves the team about $4MM in 2012. This extension includes no appearance-based incentives or options either. Late last month, Ben Nicholson-Smith said Carpenter "may well be a luxury on whom GM John Mozeliak is prepared spend," and he certainly has. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted last week that the team would hammer out a new contract at a lower salary in advance of the November option decision.

Now four full years out from Tommy John surgery, Carpenter has pitched to a 3.75 ERA in 206 1/3 innings this season. Although his ground ball rate (45.6%) is the lowest it's ever been since he joined St. Louis, he does boast his highest strikeout rate (7.15 K/9) in five years as well as a strong walk rate (2.18 BB/9). The 2005 Cy Young Award winner's fastball velocity has jumped a tick as well.

Last month we heard that the Cardinals were expected to pick up Adam Wainwright's options for 2012 and 2013, while the right-hander recovers from his own Tommy John surgery. Carpenter's new deal gives Mozeliak one less thing to worry about in a winter that figures to be dominated by negotiations with Albert Pujols.
Great deal for the Cards as it is one less thing they have to worry about this offseason which could be one of the most important ones the Cards have had to face in a long time. Carpenter has not had the run support he usually which leads people to think he is declining but in reality he is pitching the same as last year. Glad to see Carpenter will be back.