ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The Cardinals will be getting Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt.
The team announced the trade Wednesday and said they will send Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Andy Young and a Round B compensation draft pick.
When the whispers began out in the desert that the Arizona Diamondbacks were considering a rebuild, some ears in St. Louis understandably perked up. The Cardinals entered this off-season with a known desire to add a significant bat at a corner infield spot. The D-backs just so happened to have a player who fit that description on an expiring contract.
Could Paul Goldschmidt really be available? And if he is, would the Cardinals pull the trigger?
Both questions were answered in the affirmative Wednesday as the Cardinals reportedly moved on their target, striking a deal with Arizona for the talented first baseman.
Universally known as a game-changing player, any skepticism as to whether Goldschmidt was a good fit for St. Louis was derived from his contract status. Goldschmidt will earn $14.5 million for 2019 before hitting the open market as a free agent after the season, inviting uneasiness into today’s deal as to what might happen down the road.
Though St. Louis’ failed attempt to retain Jason Heyward after the 2014 season has turned some in the fan base off from these types of acquisitions, the Cardinals have shown over the years that they’re comfortable acquiring expiring contracts via trade. While it flopped with Heyward, it was a similar strategy that team used with Matt Holliday in 2009. That move ultimately panned out as one of the most successful contracts of the DeWitt era in St. Louis.
Whether Goldschmidt is the next face of the franchise for the long haul remains to be seen, but at the very least, the Cardinals should feel pretty confident in what Goldschmidt does for their lineup in the here and now.
Goldschmidt, 31, has been named to the National League All-Star team each of the last six seasons, and is about as complete a player as you can hope to find among first basemen. Throughout his eight-year career in Arizona, the 6-3, 225-pounder has offered a divine combination of power and on-base ability.
During his impressive All-Star streak the last six years, Goldschmidt has failed to slug at least .500 only once.That happened in 2016 when his slugging percentage dipped to .489 as part of his .297/.411/.489 batting line and 133 OPS+. 2016 was Goldschmidt’s worst statistical season of the last six years--and he led the league with 110 walks.
For reference, Goldschmidt’s OPS that season (.899) was better than Matt Carpenter’s (.897) from 2018. Carpenter led the Cardinals in OPS in 2018.
Rarely are first basemen threats in the running game, but Goldschmidt has been known to take more than the occasional bag. Though he was less active on the bases last season with just seven steals, he’s stolen at least 15 bases in five different seasons, including 32 swipes in 2016. Goldy is even a nimble defender at first, with 49 career DRS to his credit.
Again, it’s hard to overstate the quality Goldschmidt brings to the table in numerous facets of the game as an all-around player.
Goldschmidt’s arrival likely shifts Matt Carpenter back across the diamond from first base to third. Though the eye test suggests Carpenter’s throwing arm isn’t well-suited to the hot corner, his defensive metrics at the position in 2018 are cause for optimism. Carpenter’s 6 Defensive Runs Saved at third base last season suggest he should be able to hold his own there next season.
Barring a significant surprise, the Cardinals infield should be solidified following Wednesday’s news, with Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong and Goldschmidt going around the horn from left to right. That doesn’t mean John Mozeliak and company shouldn’t stay plenty busy tuning up the rest of the roster, though.
Goldschmidt’s $14.5 million shouldn’t put the Cardinals out of range financially to compete for any remaining free agent, Bryce Harper included. With payroll flexibility still in play, Cardinals fans have reason to hope Wednesday's move for Goldschmidt is merely scratching the surface for St. Louis' off-season.