A review of the Paul Goldschmidt trade for Cardinals and Diamondbacks

With plenty of time to evaluate it fully, here’s a look at the Paul Goldschmidt trade for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Toiling in the relative obscurity of Arizona playing for the Diamondbacks, you know the whole “East Coast bias” thing playing later games in much of the country, Paul Goldschmidt was one of the most underrated players in baseball for years.

Six straight All-Star selections (2013-2018). Three Gold Gloves. Four Silver Slugger awards. Five seasons with 15 or more stolen bases, as a first baseman. But, as he crossed into his 30s, it was also time for Goldschmidt to get paid more in line with his abilities. On the scale of contending to rebuilding, the Diamondbacks weren’t in an ideal position to do that.

So on Dec. 5, 2018, Arizona sent Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Carson Kelly, pitcher Luke Weaver, infielder Andrew Young and a 2019 Competive Balance Round B draft pick. The trade was easy to lament from the Arizona side right away.

The Diamondbacks had picked up Goldschmidt’s $14.5 million option for 2019, and before the season started the Cardinals signed him to a five-year, $130 million contract extension.

A contract like that for a player Goldschmidt’s age can become an albatross quickly.

But what about the trade, from both sides? Let’s take a look.

Reviewing the Paul Goldschmidt trade for both Cardinals and Diamondbacks

There’s enough of a sample size now that we can more fairly evaluate the Goldschmidt trade for the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks.

So what have the Cardinals gotten from Goldschmidt?

Goldschmidt has topped 30 home runs and 95 RBI in all three of his full normal seasons as a Cardinal (2019, 2021 and 2022), with a top-10 position player bWAR twice (2021 and 2022). So far in 2023, he’s a little off that pace (seven home runs, 20 RBI entering Saturday), but the Cardinals’ broader struggles are certainly a factor there.

Goldschmidt won a Gold Glove in 2021, and a Silver Slugger in 2022. Oh, and he also won NL MVP in 2022 as he hit 35 home runs with 115 RBI while leading the Senior Circuit in slugging percentage (.578) and OPS (.981).

Goldschmidt’s contract ends after the 2024 season. But the Cardinals are definitely happy with what they’ve gotten from him.

The most notable names Arizona got in the Goldschmidt deal are Kelly and Weaver.

Kelly was a top-100 prospect in baseball as he rose through the Cardinals’ system in 2017 and 2018. His first extended run in the big leagues came with the Diamondbacks in 2019, when he hit 18 home runs and posted an .826 OPS over 111 games. He was above-average offensively again in 2021 (104 OPS+), as he hit 13 home runs.

A fractured forearm after being hit by a pitch late in spring training sidelined Kelly indefinitely, and he has yet to play this season.

Weaver was also somewhat of a highly-touted prospect, top-75 in all of baseball heading into thes 2017 season as ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com. Injuries (right forearm-2019, right shoulder-2021, right elbow inflammation-2022) have hampered his career, not that he’s been particularly good when he has pitched. Arizona got a 4.72 ERA over 49 appearances (38 starts) from him.

On Aug. 1, 2022, the Diamondbacks traded Weaver to the Kansas City Royals. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in January. In four starts so far this season, he has a 7.36 ERA.

Young played 70 games across multiple positions for Arizona over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with a .205 batting average and -0.8 bWAR. He was waived in December of 2021, and spent the 2022 season in the Washington Nationals minor league system.

The Competitive Balance Round B draft pick in 2019 became left-handed pitcher Tommy Henry. He made his MLB debut last August, and had a 5.36 ERA over nine starts for the Diamondbacks last season. Over four starts so far this season, he has a 4.43 ERA with K/9 and BB/9 rates that are the same (3.6).

So the immediate reactions saying the Diamondbacks really didn’t get much for Goldschmidt have been proven right over time. Kelly is the best player they got in the deal, which says it all, while Paul Goldschmidt has remained one of the best first baseman around as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.