Kevin Towers’ decision to sign Paul Goldschmidt to a contract extension is one of the best moves in D’backs’ franchise history. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Our own Joe Jacquez did a fine job recounting some of the decisions made by Kevin Towers that ultimately doomed him as general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can read Joe’s take by clicking here. I am not going to be in the business of piling on or rehash and analyze the litany of moves that sunk him. Instead, I would rather bring up one big shining moment that he enjoyed, a signing that will go down as one of the top three decisions in the history of the franchise.
On March 29th, 2013, the D’backs announced that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt had agreed to a five year, $32 million dollar contract extension with a club option that brought the total value of the deal to over $46 million dollars. At the time, there were some doubts as to whether or not it was wise to invest so much in a player that had only one full season in the Major Leagues. There was also the question of whether or not he could hit right-handed pitching consistently. Sure, he had a good season of 20 home runs and 82 RBI’s with 43 doubles in 2012 but his splits vs. righties and lefties represented a stark contrast. Against righties, his batting average was .257, on-base percentage was .326 and slugging was .412 as opposed to .343/.423/.645 vs. lefties. This was a chance a smaller market team like Arizona needed to take in order to stay competitive in the same division as the bug spending Los Angeles Dodgers and the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Identify a potential key player or two and lock him up through arbitration and, if possible, a free agent year or two.
Fast forward to today. Is there any doubt that the timing of the Goldschmidt contract extension will go down as one of the best moves in the history of the franchise? He is the best first baseman in the game who ended up finishing second last year in the National League MVP voting. The dollar figures per year allows the team the financial flexibility to pursue free agents they may otherwise not have been able to bid on had Goldschmidt agreed to the deal before 2014 or next Spring as opposed to 2013. For example, his salary in 2016 is only $5.875 million dollars. When you factor in that the contract of Cody Ross is up and Aaron Hill has only a year left, this allows the D’backs to possibly get into the mix for David Price should he hit free agency. Perhaps, more importantly, Goldshmidt could become the first Diamondbacks’ superstar to be drafted by the organization and spend his entire career in Arizona. When we talk about “faces of the franchise”, we know he is already there for the Snakes and when we talk about “Mr. name the franchise”, there is no doubt that if he continues his current pace, Goldschmidt will be known as “Mr. Diamondback”.
Of course, there will be the matter of free agency which Goldschmidt will reach after the 2019 season when he will be 31. That’s a conversation for a different day. For now, as many D’back fans are basking in the glow that Kevin Towers is no longer GM, just remember the decision he made in March of 2013 may go down as the team’s best and most productive one.