The Cardinals front office didn’t move quickly enough to sign Josh Donaldson. They can’t afford to make the same mistake with Paul Goldschmidt.
When free agency began it seemed that Josh Donaldson was destined to sign with the Cardinals. Instead, the hesitation of St. Louis’ front office allowed the Braves to swoop in and sign him. That mistake leaves the Cardinals short of a power bat in the middle of their order.
Fortunately for fans of the Redbirds, there’s a lot of time left in the offseason. That means the Cardinals still have a chance to pivot and go in a different direction. Acquiring Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks might be the best option left.
If the Cardinals do want to make a move or the right handed first baseman, they’d be well advised not to wait too long. Arizona has made no secret of their desire to deal Goldschmidt this offseason. The Diamondbacks know that he’s still a really productive player, but they also understand that he’ll be a free agent in 2020. Keeping him beyond next season would likely be out of Arizona’s price range.
That isn’t nearly as much of an issue for the Cardinals. They should make the move for Goldschmidt now to position themselves to sign him to a new deal in the offseason. Allowing him to move to another team before hitting the open market might take St. Louis out of the running for his long-term services altogether.
In the short-term, dealing for Goldschmidt would immediately become the Cardinals best hitter. He was, after all, one of the most productive hitters in baseball last season. He led the Diamondbacks offense by slashing .290/.389.533 last year. That was good enough to equal an outstanding WAR of 5.4 on the year.
He’s exactly the sort of hitter that could help the Cardinals close the gap on their NL Central rivals. St. Louis finished 7.5 games behind the Brewers last season, but a few savvy moves could allow them to close that gap quickly. Adding Goldschmidt to Marcell Ozuna in the middle of the ‘Cards lineup would drastically improve the team’s chances of returning to the playoffs in 2019.
Of course, adding Goldschmidt isn’t going to be free. The Diamondbacks will require a substantial price in terms of prospects to give him up. It’s still a relatively low-risk move for the Cardinals. If Goldschmidt plays well and they re-sign him next winter then he’ll certainly be worth the price paid to acquire him. If the Cardinals elect to let him sign elsewhere, they would almost definitely be in position to recoup a compensatory pick for losing him in free agency.
The key for the Cardinals here is to move quickly. They can’t afford to let another big time bat slip through their hands.