The worst thing about the Cardinals is they always seem to come in second place, or are never even in the running when it comes to potential blockbuster deals. Whether it is David Price or Jason Heyward or Giancarlo Stanton, the biggest names always seem to pass by. The Cardinals decided to forego free agents and get themselves a perennial MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt! Yes, a slugging first baseman, perennial All Star and MVP candidate! Can you tell I’m excited?
The #STLCards have acquired six-time NL All-Star 1B Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for C Carson Kelly, RHP Luke Weaver, INF Andy Young and the club's Compensation Round B selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. #TimeToFly pic.twitter.com/65SThIrDli— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) December 5, 2018
The great thing about this deal is that everyone wins. Allow me to explain.
Paul Goldschmidt is a free agent at the end of the 2019 season, and the Dbacks weren’t quite able to keep up with the Dodgers and Rockies after a stellar start to 2018. Their goal is to accumulate solid players for the long term. This deal netted them an infielder (Andy Young), a solid pitcher (Luke Weaver), and one of the best young defensive catchers in the game (Carson Kelly). None of them were arbitration eligible this season. The Diamondbacks were able to shore up their system and their rotation while only giving up one year of Paul Goldschmidt.
The 2018 season was a roller coaster for Luke Weaver, who would waver during the third time through the lineup. He would post a strong start followed by a not-so-great one, ending the season with 136 1⁄3 innings pitched and a 4.62 DRA. But it was his first season as a starter and he has a lot of potential to improve upon his 2018 numbers.
As for Luke, he’s also a winner in this deal. He will likely be slotted into the fourth spot in the rotation below Zach Greinke, Robbie Ray, and Zack Godley, (assuming Grienke stays in Arizona).
Arguably, the Cardinals’ biggest dilemma has been Yadier Molina. Not because he’s ineffective, but because he is still fantastic. Thirty-five and still winning Gold Gloves. However, his knees are getting older and Carson Kelly is one of the top defensive catching prospects in the game. Kelly was the Cardinals’ post-Yadi solution, but “post-Yadi” somehow keeps getting further away. The Cardinals could have let Kelly ride the bench most of the season, or to preserve his skills they could play him predominantly in triple-A Memphis. They settled on a third option: trade him. It is a huge bet on Yadi’s health, but one I think a lot of Cardinals fans are okay with. (I know I am.)
This is a win for Carson Kelly because he’ll get to play instead of waiting for Yadi to retire.
The NL Central is going to be one of the toughest divisions to win in 2019. The Brewers, backed by a great bullpen and a slugger-happy lineup, made it all the way to the NLCS. The Cubs have Baéz/Rizzo/Bryant. That left the Cardinals in need of something— or rather, someone— great. They needed their own slugger to compete. Here is how Paul Goldschmidt has fared against the rest of the NL Central over the past three seasons:
Goldschmidt vs. NL Central
This was a total win for the Cardinals and will make them much more competitive overall, but also specifically within the division. They can shift Matt Carpenter from first base back to third while slotting Goldchmidt in at first.
How does all of this affect Goldschmidt? Well, he does get to experience a new team prior to hitting the free agent market next year. He was traded to a competitive team, desperate to make the postseason for the first time in four years. And St. Louis fans have wanted this for awhile. He will fit right in.
However, the real winner in all this is me and the rest of Cardinal Nation.