There are plenty of teams in need of a first baseman, and a dearth of easily attainable options. If a team wants to make an impact move at first base, they’ll have to go after Paul Goldschmidt, as he is easily the best first baseman on the market. He’ll also be the most difficult to acquire.
For one, the Diamondbacks don’t have to trade Goldschmidt if they’re not floored by the return. The asking price doesn’t include an ‘or-best-offer’ clause. They’re open to the idea of dealing both Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke because it’s pragmatic to think beyond 2019, but if there isn’t a match, they’re not going to deal them.
The Diamondbacks were contenders for most of the year, and even without Patrick Corbin and AJ Pollock, they should have an outside shot to make the playoffs in 2019. Because of that, the Diamondbacks apparently want to get someone back that can help them immediately.
The Phillies already tried to acquire Goldschmidt as part of their plot to acquire all the first basemen in the league. The Diamondbacks reportedly asked for Zach Eflin and prospects in return, but the Phillies tried to dump Carlos Santana on Arizona, and talks fell apart.
You can add the #Phillies to the list of teams that spoke with the #Diamondbacks about Paul Goldschmidt.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 26, 2018
A source says the teams discussed a package that would have included Zach Eflin & several young players. But the deal fell apart when the Phillies tried to add Carlos Santana
Perhaps talks may recommence now that the Phillies have traded Carlos Santana to the Mariners as part of the Jean Segura deal, but it doesn’t seem entirely likely. If they were unable to strike a deal the first time, there’s not much of a reason to think this time will be different.
Grant Brisbee is lukewarm on the idea of the Yankees getting Goldschmidt. Luke Voit was a major boon for the Yankees last season, but he hasn’t yet established his consistency. Voit hit for a 154 DRC+ (Deserved Runs Created+) in a Yankee uniform, but he also needed a .380 BABIP to do it. Even if Voit is the real deal, a team can never have too many good players. The Yankees also haven’t won the World Series in nearly a decade which is about a century in regular-team years.
The Astros would make another sensible landing spot for Goldschmidt. With Marwin Gonzalez leaving in free agency, the Astros have a spot open at first. Yuli Gurriel will turn 35 next year, and he owns a career 102 DRC+. The Astros should also have the prospect capital to get the deal done. Even with all their success in recent years, the Astros still have a top-10 farm system, and even their mid-tier prospects like JB Bukauskas and Garrett Stubbs should be enticing.
The Cardinals have also expressed interest despite having Jose Martinez and Matt Carpenter slated to play first. Even with the Cubs and Brewers in their division, the Cardinals played meaningful baseball until the final weekend of the season.
Acquiring Goldschmidt might mean a return third base for Matt Carpenter where there are some concerns about his arm strength. It would also mean Jose Martinez would get far more innings in right field where he posted -6 DRS and OOA in 2018. But it’s not as if Martinez is an especially good infielder either. If the Cardinals want him in the lineup, they’re going to get dinged on defense somewhere.
At the end of the day, there’s no real urgency for the Diamondbacks to deal Goldschmidt this winter. The Diamondbacks could wait until the trade deadline to see what their season looks like before sending him on the move. Even if every other team in the majors could use Goldschmidt next season, so too could the Diamondbacks.
Kenny Kelly is a writer for Beyond the Box Score, McCovey Chronicles, and BP Wrigleyville.