Carpenter, 38, missed the entire 2013 season after a recurrence of a nerve injury in his shoulder that cost him most of the 2012 campaign.
Carpenter's career numbers don't reflect his value to the team. He was 144-94 with a 3.76 ERA in a career that began with Toronto in 1997. He spent six seasons with the Blue Jays and nine with St. Louis. He won the 2005 National League Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. He was second in 2009 after going 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA.
"He'll go down as one of the greatest we've ever had," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak in a statement posted on the club's Twitter feed.
More telling are his postseason results, including a 10-4 record and 3.00 ERA in 18 starts. There were the eight innings of three-hit shutout baseball in a Game 3 World Series win over Detroit in 2006, a series the Cardinals won in five games; a 1-0 shutout to beat Roy Halladay in Philadelphia in the deciding game of an NL Division Series in 2011; and the gutty Game 7 World Series-clinching win over Texas on three days' rest in 2011.
His career is all the more remarkable considering the amount of time he spent on the disabled list due to various shoulder, elbow and nerve injuries. He missed most of 2002, all of 2003, most of 2007 and 2008, and then last year's season that was limited to three regular-season starts.
Carpenter was a clubhouse force in St. Louis, a no-nonsense presence who set an example of grit and toughness. Consider 2012, when he was written off as lost for the season after the nerve injury first emerged during spring training.
In July, Carpenter had radical surgery that included removal of a rib, and it worked -- he pitched three games down the stretch to help St. Louis earn the final NL wild-card spot. He beat Washington in a division series but was 0-2 in the NL Championship Series against eventual World Series winner San Francisco, his velocity and command not up to his normal standards.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.