The Cardinals are still on the hunt for an impact bat. They’ve been looking for one for two off seasons now, and the search continues. There are good options on the free agent market — Bryce Harper at the top of that class — but there are also some interesting options on the trade market.
One guy who may be available, that the Cardinals have been rumored to be interested in, is Paul Goldschmidt. Obviously, a deal like this would come at a cost. St. Louis has the prospects, though, and even just one year of Goldschmidt might be what they need to compete in October, if they can make other improvements as well.
Although Goldy would be a big addition to the middle of the lineup, it would require some shifting around to make things work. Here’s what it might look like if the Redbirds can land the big first baseman.
In each of the last two off seasons the Cardinals have made plans for Matt Carpenter to hit in the middle of the lineup. However, it hasn’t taken more than a month either time for the team to realize what most people already know: Carpenter can’t hit third. There haven’t been any talks of trying to put him back in the three-hole again to start this season, but if they land Goldschmidt, it would eliminate any reason for putting Carp anywhere but leadoff again.
Goldschmidt has spent most of his career hitting in the third slot. Of his 1092 career games, he’s started hitting third in 724 of them. He’s amassed 3215 plate appearances over those games, hitting .299 with a .937 OPS, 137 home runs and 477 RBI.
Goldy is exactly the kind of bat the Cardinals are missing. Last year he had a 5.4 WAR with 33 homers, 83 RBI and a .922 OPS. Since 2013, he’s hit 33 or more home runs four times. The other two times, he hit 24 and 19. Also, since 2013, he’s been an All-Star every season, won four Silver Slugger awards, has finished in the top three for MVP voting three times and has only had a slugging percentage of less than .533 once.
Carpenter Back to Third Base
Landing Goldschmidt not only solves the big-bat problem, but also solves their third-base problem. It would shore up both corners of the infield both offensively and defensively. This is because Matt Carpenter would have to shift back over to third, as Goldy has never played anywhere other than first base.
Aside from the cost, one of the biggest arguments for not getting Goldschmidt is that Carp is a fine first baseman. That’s absolutely true. Carpenter is a very serviceable first baseman. However, moving him back to third wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
Last season, Carp had six defensive runs saved at third base as opposed to just one at first. Although his UZR and UZR/150 were slightly below average, the DRS speak for themselves. On top of that, Goldschmidt is much better at first than Carpenter.
Last season Goldy had six DRS at first base. He also had 10 in 2017, 13 in 2013 and 18 in 2015. Over the course of his eight year career he’s also won three Gold Glove awards at first. Putting him at first base improves the Redbirds both there and at third base, over their current options.
Potential of Resigning
If the Cardinals do go get Goldschmidt, there is a risk they will lose him to free agency next offseason and be out the prospects they gave up in the trade to acquire him. However, they would also be in a better position to resign him.
Goldy still has several good seasons in him at age 31. Unless he demands too many years and way too much money, he could end up being a staple at first base for the Cardinals for three to four more seasons. That is, if they go get him this offseason.
There hasn’t been a lot of appeal for free agents to come to St. Louis in recent years. Unless he’s been here for a season and really gets the St. Louis baseball experience, Goldschmidt likely won’t have much interest in coming to the Cardinals, either. On the flip side, if the Diamondbacks deal him to the Cards and they get the first crack at him next offseason, after a full season on the team, they may just be able to bring him back for a few more seasons.
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