Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
This hurts for Diamondbacks fans. No doubt about it. Paul Goldschmidt has been the heart and soul of Arizona baseball for six seasons, and there was no package in the world that could atone for the bummer of losing him. He’s an All-Timer, not only for his consistency, but for his character. All the good things you can say about a ballplayer are said about Goldschmidt.
He does everything well. He’s hits for average and power, he’s a gold glove defender, he runs the bases well and swipes more bags than anyone expects or realizes. Six consecutive All-Star games, four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, he finished in the Top-3 of MVP voting three times, finishing in the Top-12 in five out of six pro seasons. He is the epitome of an MVP, even if he hasn’t won the hardware.
For his Diamondbacks career, Goldy finishes with a batting line of .297/.398/.532 with 1,182 hits, 709 runs, 710 RBIs, 209 home runs and 124 stolen bases. In total value, he was worth 40.1 rWAR, 36.3 fWAR.
In rate metrics, he created 44% more runs than your average MLB player, with a career low 124 wRC+ coming in his rookie season.
The 2019 impact makes this trade worth it for the Cardinals even if he leaves after the season. The Cardinals have been looking for a middle of the order bat for years, and at least for next season, they finally have one. Paired with Matt Carpenter, is there a better pair of corner infielders in either league?
Jose Martinez will lose at bats, but manager Mike Schildt won’t lose sleep over pushing a 1.5 rWAR player to the bench. He’ll join a mix in right field with Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neill to battle for at bats.
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Jedd Gyorko also gets pushed to the bench as Carpenter slides over to become the regular third baseman. Gyorko can handle the short half of a platoon at second with Kolten Wong, but otherwise he’ll mostly be relegated to bench duty.
He’s had a surprisingly good run in St. Louis after the Cardinals acquired him from San Diego not long after signing what looked like a bloated contract extension. With $13MM remaining on his deal before a club option at the same price for 2020, the Cards could move Gyorko to a team needing a right-handed option for second/third, but he’s also pretty well suited to a part-time role on the Cardinal bench.
Younger players like Yairo Munoz will also feel the domino effect as playing time shrinks for everyone not named Carpenter or Goldschmidt. Munoz, 23, had a good run last season, .276/.350/.413 in 329 plate appearances, but with an option year remaining, there’s no urgency to trade him.
The true beauty in this deal for the Cardinals is that it didn’t cost them anything of consequence. That’s not to say it’s not a good return for the Diamondbacks, only that Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly and Andy Young weren’t likely to play a major role in St. Louis anyhow.
Kelly has yet to see significant playing time behind Yadier Molina, and that didn’t look to change in 2019. Prospect Andrew Knizner steps into the heir apparent role, which works out for St. Louis because he needs a little more seasoning than Kelly, who has nothing left to prove in the upper minors but everything to prove in the majors.
While the free agent market doesn’t boast a ton of top options at catcher, there are a number of suitable backstops to soak up whatever scraps of playing time Molina leaves behind.
Young wasn’t slated for ML time this season anyhow, nor would have whoever they might have selected with their Competitive Balance pick.
The Cardinals manage to come away from this deal with hands-down one of the best players in the National League, and they didn’t give up anything from their ML roster. That’s a huge net positive for 2019, and if it proves to be enough to push the Cards past the Brewers and Cubs in the Central, mission accomplished.
There is one downside to Paul Goldshmidt: his age. But even that shouldn’t really affect the Cardinal return.
He turns 31 this year, the last season of his extremely team-friendly deal. Goldy will likely seek a major payday after this season. He will likely get it.
First baseman don’t typically age gracefully, but Paul Goldschmidt is as graceful a first baseman as there is. Given his overall athleticism, surehandedness around the bag and ability to hit consistently hit above .290, Goldy might be the rare first baseman that makes good on a deal into his late thirties.
Baseball-reference pegs Goldy for a slight decline in his age-31 season, .281/.383/.501, projected for a still-healthy 26 home runs and .886 OPS. Over at Fangraphs, steamer puts his 2019 at .277/.385/.488 with 27 home runs, good for a projected 4.2 fWAR.
Even if steamer nails their prediction, the Cardinals still have themselves a Top-35 MLB hitter for the 2019 season. His numbers may start to tail off, which could make signing Goldy to an extension a risky play, but acquiring him for 2019 is not a risky play. It’s one of the safest bets of the offseason.
Grade: An easy, tearful A+