TRADE

Yuma Sun - - CLASSIFIEDS -

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 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.

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