Car­di­nals strike gold, get Gold­schmidt from Di­a­mond­backs

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports -

PHOENIX (AP) — The St. Louis Car­di­nals struck gold in their search for a big hit­ter, ac­quir­ing slug­ging first base­man Paul Gold­schmidt in a block­buster trade with the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs on Wed­nes­day.

Ea­ger to push for the play­offs af­ter a three­year ab­sence, St. Louis sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Car­son Kelly, mi­nor league in­fielder Andy Young and a 2019 draft pick to Ari­zona.

A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove win­ner at 31, Gold­schmidt was among the top play­ers avail­able in the trade mar­ket. He hit .290 with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs last sea­son.

"We've been busy this off­sea­son work­ing to up­grade our lineup, and to­day we are ex­cited to an­nounce the ac­qui­si­tion of one of the game's pre­mier play­ers," Car­di­nals Pres­i­dent of Base­ball Op­er­a­tions John Mozeliak said in a state­ment.

Gold­schmidt has a $14.5 mil­lion salary next year, re­ceives a $1 mil­lion as­sign­ment bonus for the trade and will be el­i­gi­ble for free agency af­ter next sea­son. The Car­di­nals have a his­tory of ac­quir­ing top hit­ters and then sign­ing them to long-term deals, in­clud­ing Mark McGwire and Matt Hol­l­i­day.

St. Louis went 88-74 last sea­son and felt it needed a boost in the mid­dle of a lineup that in­cludes Matt Car­pen­ter, Mar­cell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to com­pete with the likes of Mil­wau­kee and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Cen­tral. The Car­di­nals' post­sea­son drought is their long­est since 199799.

Free-agent slug­ger Bryce Harper has sup­pos­edly been on the Cards' wish list, too, with the win­ter meet­ings com­ing up this week­end.

Last off­sea­son, the Car­di­nals had worked out a deal with Mi­ami for NL MVP Gian­carlo Stan­ton, but he re­fused to waive his no-trade clause.

Ari­zona went 82-80 in the NL West and fin­ished be­hind the Los An­ge­les Dodgers and Colorado, which both made the play­offs.

The Di­a­mond­backs parted ways with a home­grown player who grew to be the face of the fran­chise but is near­ing the end of an ex­tremely team-friendly con­tract. The quiet slug­ger was se­lected by Ari­zona in the eighth round of the 2009 draft and made his ma­jor league de­but in 2011.

In 2013, Gold­schmidt hit 36 home runs and drove in 125. In 2017, he matched that home-run high with 36 and drove in 120.

He is a .297 ca­reer hit­ter with 209 home runs, and was run­ner-up in the NL MVP vot­ing in 2013 and 2015.

"Cer­tainly this is a bit­ter­sweet de­ci­sion on our part," Di­a­mond­backs gen­eral man­ager Mike Hazen said on a con­fer­ence call. "I don't think I could over­es­ti­mate the im­pact that Paul had on our team."

Hazen said the key to the deal was what the Car­di­nals of­fered in re­turn. If there was no trade, the Di­a­mond­backs faced the prospect of Gold­schmidt leav­ing as a free agent af­ter next sea­son.

"There are de­ci­sions you want to do and there are de­ci­sions you know you have to do," Hazen said.

He said he un­der­stood fans' dis­ap­point­ment.

"Paul is pos­si­bly the best player in the Na­tional League," Hazen said. "We un­der­stand that. We've un­der­stood that for a long time."

De­spite an aw­ful start to last sea­son, he bounced back to once again be­come a pow­er­ful force. Gold­schmidt was the Di­a­mond­backs' fran­chise leader in slug­ging per­cent­age and on-base per­cent­age.

"This was an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion given how much Paul has meant to our team both on and off the field. He rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing it means to be a D-back, and we are very thank­ful to him for all that he has done for our fran­chise and our fans," Di­a­mond­backs Pres­i­dent Der­rick Hall said.

Weaver, a 25-year-old right-han­der, was 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA last sea­son. He was long rated among the top St. Louis prospects and Hazen ex­pects him to im­me­di­ately join the ro­ta­tion.

The 24-year-old Kelly has played for the Car­di­nals in parts of the past three sea­sons, bat­ting .154. He is highly re­garded for his de­fen­sive abil­ity.

Young, 24, hit a com­bined .289 in Dou­ble-A and high-A ball.

The draft choice that Ari­zona got will come af­ter the sec­ond round, likely a pick some­where in the high 70s or low 80s.

Free agency had al­ready cost the Di­a­mond­backs, who made the play­offs and beat Colorado in the NL Wild Card game a year ago be­fore be­ing swept by the Dodgers. They were priced out of any chance of re-sign­ing left­hander Pa­trick Corbin.

Corbin signed a $140 mil­lion, six-year con­tract with the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als. Cen­ter fielder A.J. Pol­lock re­mains on the free-agent mar­ket but it seems un­likely the Di­a­mond­backs would re-sign him.

Hazen said it's pre­ma­ture to say Ari­zona is in a full-scale re­build­ing mode, not­ing the team still has plenty of tal­ented play­ers.

But an­other Ari­zona ques­tion is whether it can trade ace right-han­der Zack Greinke, a move that prob­a­bly would re­quire the Di­a­mond­backs to eat a chunk of his for­mi­da­ble salary.

Hazen wouldn't of­fer a guess on whether Greinke would be on the team next sea­son but said "We're ex­plor­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make this or­ga­ni­za­tion stronger."

As­so­ci­ated Press

Headed to St. Louis: In this Aug. 31, 2018 file photo Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs' Paul Gold­schmidt hits a two-run home run dur­ing the first inning of a base­ball game against the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in Los An­ge­les. The St. Louis Car­di­nals have ac­quired Gold­schmidt from the Di­a­mond­backs in a mul­ti­player trade. The Car­di­nals sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Car­son Kelly, mi­nor league in­fielder Andy Young and a 2019 draft pick to Ari­zona in the deal Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.