St.Louis Cardinals Receive: 1B Paul Goldschmidt
Arizona Diamondbacks Receive: RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, 2B Andy Young, 2019 78th pick
Beat reporters have been jostling back and forth, getting the opinions of multiple front offices to try and declare an initial winner in this trade. It’s a fruitless exercise as no winner can be crowned for many years as we watch the development of the younger players. But for what the Cardinals are trying to do, I can get behind the move. But my opinion is only being read here for the fantasy side of things, so let’s dive in.
I’ve long been a Goldie fan, who’s our era’s Jeff Bagwell. His elite bat has was as automatic as could be until his two-month cold spell to open 2018. The strikeouts creeped up to 30 percent as pitchers pounded him in the zone and he inexplicably swung through them. But as an elite player usually does, he swiftly dismissed our worries and slashed .320/.430/.602 with 26 home runs after June 1.
One of the first things I always look at when a player changes teams is his new home park. Busch Stadium has routinely hung around the bottom 10 of run scoring the last few years according to ESPN Park Factors. Even the new Chase Field last year ranked 11th while Busch ranked 23rd in run scoring. But MVP caliber bats like Goldschmidt’s find a way to produce and entering a Cardinals lineup with an on-base fiend like Matt Carpenter and likely Jose Martinez or Dexter Fowler at the two spot (another pair of good on-base guys) should provide a boon to the counting stats even if the park is a little bit of a suppressor. While he’ll miss out on Coors Fields trips, he’ll visit Great American Ballpark, Miller Park and Wrigley Field more often — teams he hits well against and in parks that are hitter friendly.
Despite the two-month downswing, Goldschmidt continued barreling balls at his usual career rate with a similar exit velocity. He even increased his launch angle a bit (though that may help the spike in strikeouts). The stolen bases are evaporating and the Cardinals were middle of the road after Mike Shildt took over in the second half in that category, so I don’t expect Goldie to run wild. But with a very early ADP of 21 according to 15 NFBC drafts, I love what he brings to the table.
All in all, the Cardinals are pushing their chips in. After 2019, Goldie, Miles Mikolas, Marcell Ozuna and Michael Wacha are all free agents. This also signals that the Cardinals are much more of a player for Bryce Harper today than they were when the offseason began.
2019 Projection: 99/32/109/5 …. .289/.393/.524 in 155 games
Other Cardinal Notes
Matt Carpenter, who is at worst 1B/3B eligible (and 2B eligible in more lax platforms), likely won’t retain 1B eligibility in 2020 as he’ll shift over to third base. And while questions of his power outburst can be had another day, he’ll be a near lock to cross the 100-run mark again.
Jedd Gyorko’s value takes a hit. He’s either a bench bat or a platoon partner for Kolten Wong. Jose Martinez’s value drops a bit here too. He was having some issues cracking the lineup in the second half but his ability to slot at first base or the outfield helped him. Now he’s relegated to the outfield, and hopefully right field where his defense is merely below average. His bat indicates he should be an everyday guy, but the Cardinals have plenty of mouths to feed in the outfield.
I admit I’m not the high guy on Weaver. Setting up on the extreme first-base side of the rubber, in 2018 he used his fast, whip-like arm to come up and in on lefties and away from righties with his fastball, a far cry from 2017 when he used the entire upper third to both batters. His pitches took a step back in value and particularly his changeup, a great pitch for him in 2017, became a bad one in 2018. It was a strange occurrence as all his pitches gained a tick in velocity, usually a precursor for a drop in ERA and rise in strikeouts. But he dropped a dud, raising his ERA a full run from 3.88 to 4.95 with a similar jump in FIP (3.17 to 4.45). And he went from a 28 K% to 20 K%.
He needs to continue to develop his curveball a little more to make it a viable third pitch and locate it better. Last season it lived in the bottom half of the zone but it didn’t dive much below it unlike the previous year where it was primarily off the plate to righties.
The humidor neutralized Chase Field pretty heavily so we don’t have to dread his home park as much. In 12-team leagues he’s a last-round flier at best and in 15-team leagues you’re snagging him as an SP6 with the hopes he can pick Zack Greinke’s neurotic brain and learn a new pitch. Just have lowered expectations.
Projection for 2019: 11 W/4.45/1.26/135 K in 156 IP
If you think I’m down on Weaver, you haven’t seen me talk about Kelly. His value is primarily tied up into his defense. He has a reputation as a good defender with a solid arm. He has fringe power and a chance at an average hit tool. I’m not going to judge him on 117 at-bats that were sporadic to begin with and I’ll cede his Triple-A slash lines in 2017 and 2018 were pretty good, buoyed by a strong walk rate. But at this moment he’s viable only in deep two-catcher leagues, generating his value almost entirely from the ability to finally log some plate appearances and maybe run into a baseball a few times.
2019 Projection: 39/5/40/0 …. .234/.313/.393 in 90 games
Here’s a portion of what Lance Brozdowski wrote for his Andy Young blurb when he ranked him 10th in the Cardinals Top 30:
Young’s stats in the minors are fantastic. He actually produced better after his Florida State to Texas League jump, mashing 21 home runs in under 130 games. His walk rate fell, but he hits for a high enough average where it shouldn’t be a huge concern, especially in tandem with a good approach and noticeable discipline.
He has a quiet set-up with quick hands. My odd comparison here is actually the White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia in terms of follow through and load.
His speed is below average and defense is at best average, making him less dynamic than others. But the overall product should lend itself to a major league role and production, with the potential for an everyday role once the Cardinals intentions on the right side of the infield become clearer.
He won’t play in 2019 but should debut some time in 2020.
Other Diamondbacks Notes:
I’m not sure who takes over first base now. Does Jake Lamb slide over, where he played briefly in 2015? Does he maybe platoon with Christian Walker, perennial Triple-A destroyer? Or perhaps they sign another platoon first baseman but the issue is they’re all lefty bats except for the 35-year-old Mark Reynolds. Or maybe even Hanley Ramirez!