Would you trade many, many years of potential for one year of greatness, even if it wouldn't get you the ultimate price? For the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, that's the million dollar question.
I'm here to tell you why it's not a good idea and how I want the chatter and discussion about it to cease this month. Use your time, energy and oxygen on other far more likelier things. The chances of Goldschmidt even coming to St. Louis are about as good as the Loop Trolley in the Delmar Loop not striking a vehicle. Wait a minute.
This isn't a case of not liking Goldschmidt. For the past six seasons, he has provided a minimum WAR of 4.7 and provided the D-Backs with a .930 OPS during that time. He's an annual MVP candidate, and someone who could slip into the middle of the Cardinals lineup and do damage. He's a lock for 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 95 walks and an OPS+ of 135. The bat is mightier than the hype with this one.
The defense at first base has netted Goldschmidt three Gold Gloves, and that's a nice accomplishment. He would catch whatever Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong threw his way and hasn't made more than six errors in a season. He can field the ball and take care of it. Let's just say he uses the right foot to extend and cover the bag, which is nice.
The problem is the price and the one year the Cardinals would have guaranteed rights to him. Stop yourself before you tell me John Mozeliak could work out a handshake deal with Goldschmidt prior to the start of the 2019 season, because that won't happen. The soon-to-be free agent would be stupid to work out his future before he slugs for it. It's just not likely at all, so don't waste time on it.
Arizona knows he isn't going to stick around after 2019, so they will want a pretty penny for him. Unlike Miami and Giancarlo Stanton, there's no $250 million price tag going away here. Just a single year before negotiating rights open back up. I would expect Arizona to ask for a couple premium prospects as well as two more middle of the pack talents. You aren't going to fleece them for Goldschmidt. If he had ended the 2018 season the way he started it, there would be a chance at a discount, but he recovered well.
I am not one to hoard prospects and act like Dakota Hudson could become the next top of the rotation beast for the Cardinals, but I'm not ready to hand him and 2-3 others away for a single year. It's just not smart baseball and a bad bet.
Also, the Cardinals already have a pretty good first baseman in Matt Carpenter, whose 4.9 WAR ranked close to Goldschmidt's 5.4 this past season. Carpenter isn't as slick defensively, but he also isn't a good third baseman, which is where his glove would land if a trade occurred. If Carpenter had a down year, maybe you take the chance, but his bat carried the team for months, so why make the deal?
If you are going to trade for a year of Goldschmidt, who turns 32 before the end of the 2019 season, just go out and sign Josh Donaldson. Carpenter stays at first, DeJong and Wong man the middle, and a quality third baseman in Donaldson has the hot corner. You also keep your prospects in the end for a trade to be named later. The former Blue Jay will be 33 in December, but that's not much older than Goldschmidt. You'd at least get 2-3 years of Donaldson, which injury prone or not, is simply a better deal.
Finally, Goldschmidt doesn't even make the Cardinals a World Series threat in 2019. If he was the final piece and the bullpen was armed and ready with a big rotation and full lineup, the gamble would be far less. The reality is the Cardinals aren't going for broke in 2019, yet reloading on the fly. While it's not a full-blown rebuild, the team is developing youth and adding pieces to mount a comeback. They aren't prepping one last ride before shedding 4-5 contracts. Goldschmidt's 5.0 WAR won't change the divisional setup that much.
While he is an attractive piece to put into a lineup, the juice on Paul Goldschmidt simply isn't worth the squeeze for the Cardinals right now. It's simply not a good play for a team needing to make the right moves and chase down a certain blend of bold strategy. Look, but don't touch folks.
When I posted on Twitter last night about letting go of the Goldy fantasy, 101.1 ESPN radio host and columnist Randy Karraker had a question for me.
"So you'd rather start 2019 with what they ended 2018 with than with Goldschmidt?"
Yes, I'd rather roll with the first baseman the Cardinals already have under contract for two years instead of rolling the dice on one year of Goldschmidt. Acquire Bryce Harper and/or Donaldson, and fix the bullpen. It's smarter baseball.
Sometimes, great players aren't an ideal fit for your team. The terms determine everything, whether it's right or wrong. For the Cardinals and Goldschmidt, the timing and long-term value simply doesn't fit.
Just say no.
*All statistics were provided by Baseball Reference, including WAR, OPS, and OPS+.