The Arizona Diamondbacks are at a bit of a decision point organizationally, and their upcoming choices could end up impacting the Cubs next season.
Here’s how: Although they finished the 2018 season a couple games over .500, the Diamondbacks are staring up at a division with the Dodgers and Rockies both expecting to contend, while fighting off a Giants team with new management/plenty of money and a rebuilding Padres squad that is seemingly always willing to deal.
More to the point, they’re losing some of their best players to free agency this winter – like Patrick Corbin (6.3 WAR), Clay Buchholz (1.9 WAR), A.J. Pollock (2.5 WAR), and Daniel Descalso (1.9 WAR), among others – and don’t figure to re-sign any of them – at least, as of now.
That’s a pretty tough break, but the picture gets even bleaker when you consider that their best player, Paul Goldschmidt, is also just one year removed from free agency and an extension doesn’t feel likely. The Diamondbacks could use this offseason to retool for one last go of it in 2019 while Goldschmidt is still around, but after losing that many games with Corbin, Pollock, and the rest of the gang in 2018, pushing the chips back in for 2019 doesn’t feel wise.
They seem well-aware of that fact, and, if I’m reading the rumors correctly this winter, they’ve already signaled their intentions to sell. And that reportedly includes the extremely talented Goldschmidt, who’s already drawing interest in places you rather not see:
#Astros, #STLCards are the two teams that have had the most meaningful discussions with the #DBacks about a trade for Paul Goldschmidt, sources tell The Athletic. No deal is close; talks not yet advanced.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 20, 2018
The rest of this post will be about the Cardinals, but as a quick upfront aside: if the Astros manage to land Paul Goldschmidt for 2019 without giving up any big league pieces in return, they’re going to be one freaking fantastic team once again. An infield of Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Paul Goldschmidt is downright terrifying and I hope I never see it. Unless it’s in the World Series, because hey, cool, World Series. Or, of course, if it prevents …
The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly had “meaningful discussions with the DBacks about a trade for Paul Goldschmidt,” according to Ken Rosenthal’s sources, which are about as solid as they come. And that’s a bummer for obvious reasons – though not exactly something that should catch us off guard.
Back on November 9th, Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Cardinals would be interested in adding a non-Manny Machado corner infielder via free free agency this winter, suggesting names like third basemen Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas as potential targets. But he didn’t stop there. Given Matt Carpenter’s ability to switch back and forth between first and third and a cupboard stocked full of prospects, Rosenthal guessed that the Cardinals could pull off a trade, targeting someone like Goldschmidt, while sliding Carpenter across the infield.
And a big push for 2019 is not out of the question for the Cardinals. In fact, I’d understand it if they did go all in. The Cubs showed some signs of mortality this season and the Brewers are no lock to repeat at 95+ wins either. More importantly, the Cardinals have just one more year of control over Marcell Ozuna, Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas and only two more years of control over Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and Jedd Gyorko. If they don’t go for it soon, they might have to just close their eyes and hope for the best from some of those youngsters to lead the next team in a couple years.
And make no mistake, Paul Goldschmidt would be truly game-changing for them. Routinely overlooked, Goldschmidt, 31, has posted four consecutive seasons of at least a 133 wRC+ and 5.0 WAR. He walks a ton, he hits homers, he steals bases, he plays good defense, and he’s hit above .290 every year since 2012. And to really drive it home, Goldschmidt has been an All-Star in six straight seasons, has won four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, and is a three-time MVP finalist. Steamer is projected a .277/.387/.499 (135 wRC+ and 4.1 WAR) slash line next season, and I’d comfortably take the over.
And, sure, even one year of Goldschmidt might cost the Cardinals a pretty penny, but it could be worth it for them, especially if they augment the team elsewhere in free agency. Remember: this is a loaded class and we know the Cardinals have cash to burn from their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton last winter. Plus, the Cardinals always seem to pull of trades for far cheaper than anybody else is able. So, yeah, this is all plenty realistic.
The good news from Rosenthal is that the talks are not yet advanced/no deal is close, but don’t get too comfortable. This tends to be how these sort of things play out: the connection is thrown out there (November 9th), the talks are reported (yesterday), and things progress as the season goes on. I’m willing to bet Goldschmidt gets moved *somewhere* this winter (probably during the Winter Meetings in December) and the Cardinals seem as likely a landing spot as any.
If only Anthony Rizzo could play third base, am I right?!