Posted on December 5, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The hot stove is officially lit, as baseball trades are coming in fast and furious. On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals made a big move, acquiring first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange, the Diamondbacks will receive pitcher Luke Weaver, young catcher Carson Kelly, infield prospect Andy Young, and a Compensation Round B pick in next year’s draft.
“We’ve been busy this offseason working to upgrade our lineup, and today we are excited to announce the acquisition of one of the game’s premier players in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt,” said Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak in a statement.
Goldschmidt is one of the premier first basemen in baseball. Despite a sluggish start to the 2018 season, he ended up hitting .290 with 33 home runs, producing an OPS of .922. Goldschmidt has been an all-star in each of the last six seasons. During that time, he has also won four Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Glove awards. Even if he’s on the back end of his prime years, Goldschmidt remains an impact player both offensively and defensively.
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The only caveat with acquiring Goldschmidt is that he has just one year left on his contract until he reaches free agency. Unless the Cardinals can sign him to a long-term deal, they paid a hefty price for just one year of his services. That being said, St. Louis is eager to compete in 2019. The Cardinals have missed the postseason in three straight years, which is a serious drought by their standards.
Of course, acquiring Goldschmidt will raise questions about Jose Martinez, who got a bulk of the playing time at first base in 2018. Martinez can play the corner outfield. However, the Cardinals are well stocked there with Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, and youngster Tyler O’Neill. Adding Goldschmidt also means less moving around for Matt Carpenter, who should now see a bulk of his playing time at third base.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks got a nice haul in this trade, especially since Goldschmidt would have left in another year anyway. Weaver struggled in 2018 but flashed mid-rotation potential in 2017. He’s also under team control through the 2023 season, making him a long-term asset for Arizona. He should be able to hold a spot in Arizona’s rotation for many years to come. He will essentially take the spot that belonged to Patrick Corbin, who will sign with the Washington Nationals.
Kelly, meanwhile, has struggled to hit during brief stints in the majors the last three seasons. However, not long ago he was one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. At age 24, he has plenty of time to fulfill his potential. With Alex Avila under contract in 2019, the Diamondbacks won’t have to rush Kelly. There’s still every chance that he ends up being Arizona’s backstop long-term.
For a team that appears to be heading toward a rebuild, Weaver and Kelly are both good pickups. Weaver is already a major league pitcher while Kelly is close to a finished product. Both could help Arizona to rebuild quickly. Young, meanwhile, is less heralded but has hit at every level of the minors. The Diamondbacks have looked likely to trade for Goldschmidt all winter. In the end, they should be pleased with the return they got with one year left on his contract.
St. Louis should also be happy with this trade. The Cardinals should have enough rotation depth to survive the absence of Weaver. They also have a couple of youngsters in their farm system waiting in the wings. Plus, with Yadier Molina signed through 2020, Kelly was somewhat expendable. The Cardinals also have another promising catching prospect in Andrew Knizner, who should make his big league debut at some point in 2019. All things considered, the Cardinals will be thrilled about what they gave up to acquire Goldschmidt, a player who will make them substantially better in 2019.