As the 2018 Winter Meetings approach, the BND will take a look at the pros and cons of either signing or trading for the players they’ve been connected to through rumors this offseason.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the St. Louis Cardinals are one of two teams that have had the most serious talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks about trading for slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Since that tweet, which came Nov. 19, there’s only been one solid piece of news about Goldschmidt: That the Diamondbacks and Phillies were involved in trade talks. Those talks ultimately fell apart, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, when Philadelphia insisted on adding Carlos Santana to the deal.
According to Stark, that deal would have included pitcher Zach Eflin and several other young players, leading to an understanding that if Arizona is to trade its all-star first baseman, it’s not going to come cheap. That shouldn’t come as a surprise: Goldschmidt accumulated 40.1 bWAR and 36.3 fWAR in eight seasons in Arizona.
Here are the pros and cons of swinging a trade to bring Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis in 2019:
Why St. Louis should trade for Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt has slugged 30 homers in four of the last six seasons and has 209 career dingers. The Cardinals have had just three players reach the 30 home run mark since 2012: Carlos Beltran hit 32 in 2012, Jedd Gyorko hit 30 in 2016, and Matt Carpenter hit 36 in 2018. St. Louis hasn’t had two players hit 30 homers in a season since 2011 when Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman combined to do it en route to winning the World Series.
Putting Goldschmidt’s bat in the 2019 lineup would give the Cardinals the type of power hitter they haven’t had since Pujols bolted for Los Angeles after the 2011 season.
Adding that type of bat to the Cardinals lineup would help them overcome one of their biggest weaknesses — scoring runs. While the Cardinals did score 759 runs in 2018, they were just 13-47 in games where they scored three or fewer runs. And their total runs scored was good for just 10th in baseball, tied with the Atlanta Braves. Both World Series participants, the Red Sox and Dodgers, scored more than 800 runs in 2019.
While the Cardinals have some dynamic young pitching that should lessen the pressure on the offense, teams that score more runs are more likely to win. And as the Cardinals try to end their three-year playoff drought, adding Goldschmidt’s bat should help St. Louis push more runs across the plate and, ultimately, increase the win total from 88 to the mid-90s.
One other positive of adding Goldschmidt is that he would provide protection for other bats in the lineup, namely Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna, who came to the Cardinals in a trade after St. Louis failed to land Giancarlo Stanton, hit 23 homers and batted .280 in his first season wearing the birds on the bat. But he posted some eye-popping numbers in 2017 while hitting in the same lineup as Stanton, slugging 37 homers and batting .312. Adding Goldschmidt’s big bat to the middle of the St. Louis order would provide Ozuna similar protection to when he was hitting behind Stanton. That would give him a better opportunity of repeating his 2017 season rather than allowing him to be pitched around as happened in 2018.
Goldschmidt’s durability is also a plus for a St. Louis team that saw several players lose a significant number of games to injury in 2018. Goldschmidt has played at least 155 games in five of the last six seasons. He did miss significant time in 2014 with a fractured hand after he was hit by a pitch but has avoid the disabled list in every season since.
Why St. Louis should not trade for Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt will enter the 2019 season with just one year remaining on the contract he signed in March 2013. He’ll make $14.5 million this coming season, which is a more than reasonable price for the 31-year-old slugger.
The problem is that St. Louis would have to give up quite a bit in a trade with no guarantee Goldschmidt would be a Cardinal beyond 2019.
With Arizona likely pushing for a premium return, the Cardinals can expect to give up some of their prized pitching to land the slugger. Here are just a few ideas from baseball analysts (note: these are not rumors, just proposals):
- Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated says the Cardinals should trade catcher Andrew Knizer and outfielder Connor Capel for Goldschmidt. Knizer is the team’s sixth best prospect according to prospects1500.com.
- In that same Sports Illustrated article, Jon Taylor suggests St. Louis send Jose Martinez, Dakota Hudson and additional prospects to Arizona.
- Earlier in November, David Schoenfield of ESPN suggested a similar deal to Taylor — Martinez, Hudson and Luke Weaver for Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke.
All those ideas require St. Louis giving up some premium pieces — something that’s to be expected when trying to land one of the best players in the game. But Schoenfield’s idea also creates another problem for St. Louis — the addition of Greinke’s monster contract. Greinke is owed $104.5 million through 2021, and while he could fill a spot in the Cardinals pitching rotation, his money could prevent St. Louis from making other moves to strengthen the team — or prevent St. Louis from being able to resign Goldschmidt.
Additionally, Goldschmidt would be another right-handed hitter in a righty-dominated lineup. The Cardinals lineup boasts just two lefties, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong, and in an ideal situation, St. Louis would add a lefty power hitter to the lineup.
Goldschmidt is also only capable of playing first base, which would require St. Louis to keep Matt Carpenter at third base. While advanced metrics show Carpenter is a fairly average third baseman, his weak throwing arm has caused the defense issues. St. Louis would likely be better off adding a power hitting third baseman, perhaps Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, and letting Carpenter handle first base.
Paul Goldschmidt checks a lot of boxes for St. Louis — both positive and negative. But it’s likely those positives outweigh the negatives and adding Goldschmidt would send a message that the Cardinals intend to compete in 2019.
Do you think the Cardinals would be better with Paul Goldschmidt, or should they focus their attention elsewhere? You can comment on the 618 Sports Facebook page and share your thoughts with other fans of the St. Louis baseball team.