Analysis: Cardinals acquire Paul Goldschmidt

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired 1B Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, IF Andy Young, and the Cardinals’ selection in Compensation Round B of the 2019 Major League draft.

The numbers

Paul Goldschmidt, 31, joins the Cardinals in the final year of a 6 year, $44.55 million deal he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team that drafted him in the 8th round of the 2009 draft, back before the 2014 season. A six-time All Star and a three-time top-3 NL MVP vote getter, Goldschmidt hit .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs and ranked 8th among qualified hitters in Major League Baseball with a 145 wRC+.

Luke Weaver, 25, heads to the Diamondbacks with just over four years of team control remaining. After a strong finish to 2017 and an equally strong start to 2018, Weaver began to struggle. When the 2018 season was finished, Weaver had a 4.95 ERA in 136.1 innings (25 starts, 5 relief appearances) as he lost his spot in the rotation late in the season.

Carson Kelly, 24, was a consensus top-60 prospect before the 2018 season began as one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Kelly hit .269/.378/.395 with 7 home runs and a 107 wRC+ in 83 games for Triple-A Memphis. He appeared only briefly with the Cardinals, hitting just .114 in 19 games, spending just 100 innings behind the plate.

Andy Young, 24, hit .289/.379/.479 with 21 home runs and a 144 wRC+ in 119 games between Double A Springfield and High A Palm Beach last season. He also took part in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .301/.416/.521 with 3 home runs in 20 games. Not a top prospect as a former 37th round pick, Young’s stock has been rising thanks to strong hitting performances as defensive versatility, having played second base, short stop, third base, right field, and left field so far in his minor league career.

The Competitive Balance draft pick that was traded to Arizona is currently pick #78, though draft pick compensation for players who turned down qualifying offers could move the pick a few spots, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

The impact

This is the first time in maybe five years that I’ve felt like the Cardinals had all the bats they needed to truly be a contender. They’ve been a bat short for years, despite efforts to acquire one or make up ground, they continued to be one bat short. However, now after this trade, the Cardinals appear to be, on paper, right where they need to be.

The Cardinals have acquired a player who can jump into the middle of the order and consistently drive in an on base machine like Matt Carpenter with the protection of a guy like Marcell Ozuna, who protected Giancarlo Stanton all those years in Miami. In return to Arizona, they did not give up any key pieces to their future.

This isn’t to say that the Cardinals should be done. Far from it, in fact.

Goldschmidt will make $14.5 million in 2019, the final season on his current six year deal and is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. While the Cardinals are obviously optimistic about their ability to extend Goldschmidt beyond the 2019 season, this trade could very well end as a one year deal for the Cardinals. Because of that, this should be just the first step.

The Cardinals still need to decide what they will do in right field next season and they still need a left handed hitter and they still need a hitter for 2020 and beyond. An acquisition of Bryce Harper solves all those problems for 2019 and into the future.

In fact, a Cardinals’ Opening Day lineup card featuring Harper, is one of the first things I would slide across the table to him when meeting with him.

3B Matt Carpenter
1B Paul Goldschmidt
RF Bryce Harper
LF Marcell Ozuna
SS Paul DeJong
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
CF Harrison Bader
P Miles Mikolas

That’s a classic lineup. Defense first up the middle and your big hitters on the corners.

It’s also a lineup that, even if you remove Goldschmidt, is still a contending lineup in 2020.

As I’ve said while discussing acquiring players like Goldschmidt or Josh Donaldson, those players are fresh coats of paint. They’re nice to have, but, at they’re age, they’re not guys you build around. The Cardinals still need a foundational hitter, even if they extend Goldschmidt. One that they can build their franchise around for years to come. That’s still Bryce Harper.

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