Car­di­nals strike gold, get big hit­ter Gold­schmidt from Di­a­mond­backs

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS -

PHOENIX—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 three-year 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 longterm 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 1997-99.

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.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

■ In this Aug. 31 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.

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