The Chicago White Sox are looking for a left-handed hitting utility infielder, and Matt Carpenter from the St. Louis Cardinals fits the bill. In fact, Carpenter may be exactly what White Sox general manager Rick Hahn needs.
See, Carpenter has all of the intangibles the White Sox are looking for from an offensive standpoint.
During his first full season last year, Carpenter hit .294, had an OPS of .828 and drove in 46 runs in 296 official at-bats. In addition to solid offensive production, he had seven sacrifices, which is an area the White Sox have been lacking in for the last few years.
Along with his presence at the plate, Carpenter is quite versatile defensively. He can play every day at third, or he can be used as part of a larger platoon system with Jeff Keppinger.
That system would have him split time with Keppinger at the hot corner, while also spelling Gordon Beckham—if they are not traded for one another—at second base. Carpenter also has the ability to play left field if a situation arises where an emergency solution is needed.
He has experience at all three positions and would be an instant offensive upgrade over past utility infielders. Regardless, getting Carpenter 400 at-bats would not be overly difficult and would provide manager Robin Ventura with lineup flexibility.
To be sure, Carpenter's experience playing second base is very limited. Five games last season is the totality of it, actually.
He has been putting work into it this offseason, however, as Derrick Goold from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the end of December.
As it stands, he can easily replace a guy like Rule 5 pick Angel Sanchez, has a much better bat than Beckham and gives Ventura the versatility he did not have at the plate last year.
When it comes to acquiring Carpenter, the White Sox may have what the Cardinals need to get him.
To start, they're in the market for Danny Descalso's replacement at second base.
"This winter," Goold continued in his article, "the Cardinals have eyed some outside options for second base, discussing such players as Asdrubal Cabrera and free-agent Marco Scutaro." None of those deals went through, though.
And even though the Cardinals have some very good prospects in the minor leagues—Kolten Wong comes to mind—they all seem to be at least a year away.
The Cardinals' needs go beyond second base. They should also be looking for a left-handed starting pitcher.
The only lefty in their rotation, Jaime Garcia, is questionable for the beginning of the regular season. That makes depth a real concern for the Cardinals.
Beckham and either Hector Santiago or Jose Quintana for Carpenter is a possible trade scenario that could fulfill two needs for the Cardinals and benefit both teams.
The White Sox have had a fairly quiet offseason thus far. While there is no reason to make a trade just to make a trade, Carpenter makes sense.
I do not see the White Sox being any better in 2013 than they were in 2012 if both Alexei Ramirez and Beckham are still on the roster. There needs to be a change and former Baltimore Orioles infielder Steve Tolleson is not it.
In a perfect world, Carpenter plays second base full-time and bats eighth, while Keppinger takes over at third and hits second.
Worst case, the White Sox have an interchangeable left-handed hitting infielder who can make matchups a dream for Ventura and a nightmare for opposing managers.
*Statistics provided by BaseballReference.com. Roster information courtesy of MLBDepthCharts.com.
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