Cardinals Land Paul Goldschmidt From D-backs
The Cardinals have a long history of acquiring impact superstars via trade, from Mark McGwire to Jim Edmonds to Scott Rolen. After missing the playoffs for three straight years, they channeled their past to again acquire one of baseball's top players.
The Cardinals acquired Paul Goldschmidt from the D-backs on Wednesday, trading away righthander Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and their competitive balance round B draft pick (currently No. 78 overall).
In Goldschmidt, the Cardinals receive one of baseball's preeminent sluggers and players to stick in the middle of their lineup, albeit for just one year guaranteed.
The D-backs, having already lost Patrick Corbin in free agency and with A.J. Pollock likely to sign elsewhere, started their rebuild by acquiring two of the Cardinals' Top 20 Prospects and a 25-year-old righthander who has long had promise.
Luke Weaver, RHP
Weaver ranked as high as the No. 50 prospect in baseball as he rose up the minors and has been a part of the Cardinals' rotation the last two years, although not without hiccups. The undersized righthander, a first-round pick in 2014, brings a varied arsenal with fastball that averages 94 mph, a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s curveball, and he also mixes in an upper-80s cutter on occasion.
Weaver's stuff and pedigree are that of a solid mid-rotation starter, but he's struggled with inconsistent command and been vulnerable against lefthanded hitters (.291 BA, .841 OPS in 2018). He was demoted to the bullpen at the end of the season. Weaver's stock has taken a bit of a dip, but he's still a young pitcher with a good arm and showed flashes of sustainable success as recently as 2017. He'll get a fresh start with the D-backs and should immediately slot into their rotation.
Carson Kelly, C
Kelly was set to rank as the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect for 2019. He has been hailed as Yadier Molina’s heir apparent for years, but with Molina showing no signs of letting up, Kelly was relegated to trying to win the backup job. He failed to do that in 2018 and returned to Triple-A for the third straight season. Kelly has hit just .164 in three years of big league stints, but he’s hit at Triple-A and evaluators see the tools to be an average hitter. He’s athletic in the box, has a sound swing without glaring holes and showed a patient approach with as many walks (48) as strikeouts in Memphis. He's not a power hitter, but he has the strength and approach to project for 10-15 home runs at his peak.
Kelly’s sterling defensive reputation took a hit when he struggled with blocking in spring training and showed a below-average arm in the majors, but over the course of the year observers still saw an all-around plus defender with an above-average arm. Now that he's no longer blocked, he should get his first extended stint in the majors with the D-backs this year and has a strong chance to emerge as their everyday catcher.
Andy Young, 2B
Signed for just $3,000 as a 37th-round pick in 2016, Young quickly emerged as a steal. He mashed his way up three levels in his first full season in 2017, and he followed in 2018 by finishing third in the Cardinals system in OPS (.858), fourth in home runs (21) and fifth in hits (115) as he moved to Double-A. He was set to rank as the Cardinals' No. 20 prospect after continuing to mash in the Arizona Fall League.
Young is a second baseman, but his best position is “hitter.” He’s a physical specimen with a chiseled core, strong wrists, thick forearms and big legs that give him a strong base and make him a powerful runner. He has a short, compact stroke that packs a punch, and he uses the entire field with average raw power. He jumps on fastballs early and doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strike out much either. Young is a fringy athlete who makes the routine plays at second base but doesn't have the agility to stay there, so he projects to either third base or left field for most evaluators. Young will go as far as his bat takes him, and there’s a growing consensus that will be the majors.
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Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Occasionally overlooked because he plays in Arizona, Goldschmidt has been one of the elite players in baseball this decade. He's made six consecutive All-Star Games, finished top-three in NL MVP voting three times and has the sixth-highest OPS of any player since his first full season in 2012. He hit .290 with 33 home runs last season, and that was a down year. He's also a perennial Gold Glove contender at first base, and he's even stolen 124 bases in his career, though his stolen base numbers have steadily declined the last three seasons.
Goldschmidt joins a Cardinals team that ranked 22nd in MLB in home runs this year and had significant defensive issues at first base. His acquisition solves both of those problems. He is only signed through 2019, but the Cardinals have a long history of extending the superstars they acquire, including McGwire, Edmonds and Rolen.