PHOENIX (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals struck gold in their search for a big hitter, getting All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a multiplayer trade Wednesday.
Eager to push for the playoffs after a three-year absence, the Cardinals 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 and has often finished high in the NL MVP voting.
“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 and believed 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 Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals’ postseason drought is their longest 1997-99.
Free agent slugger Bryce Harper has supposedly been on the Cards’ wish list, too, as the winter meetings approach 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, who both made the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks, obviously in rebuilding mode, 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, an eighth-round draft pick out of Texas State in 2009, quickly moved through the Arizona minor league system and advanced to the big league club 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 career .297 hitter with 209 home runs, and was runnerup in the NL MVP voting in 2013 and 2015.
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.
The 24-year-old Kelly has played for the Cardinals in parts of the past three seasons, batting .154. He’s been 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.
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