The writing is on the wall. Paul Goldschmidt might as well start packing his bags in preparation for playing the 2019 season someplace other than Arizona. The window to sign Paul Goldschmidt to a long-term extension, while not bolted shut for good, has essentially already closed. With the GM meetings set to begin December 9th and the Thanksgiving holiday taking up the rest of this week, there simply is precious little time left before the team needs to finish the process of moving on from the best position player to ever be developed from within.
Rumours have already begun regarding which teams have been showing the most interest. Then of course, there is also the “logical speculation”, based on current rosters and payrolls. Earlier in the offseason, Jack examined the sort of monetary trade value Paul Goldschmidt represents. While that examination did not figure in a draft pick, it still serves as a useful baseline for discussion. What sort of players do those numbers look like though, especially when team’s these days are turning more and more to analytics and trying to squeeze every bit of value out of every deal made? Here’s what we do know.
- If Goldschmidt is traded before the season, the team that gets him will be entitled to extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the 2019 season. Since Goldschmidt is a sure lock to land a contract worth more than $50 million, that team, should they not simply sign him themselves, will be awarded a compensatory draft pick.
- With departures of Corbin, Buchholz, and Greinke, the Diamondbacks need to find about 500 innings of starting pitching, this in addition to the healthy return of Taijuan Walker.
- The only teams that make sense when considering a trade for Goldschmidt are teams set to make a strong playoff run in 2019, so most rebuilding teams are out.
- The Cubs and Braves already have Rizzo and Freeman, making a trade for Goldschmidt, despite his talents, unlikely, as the cost for Goldschmidt could be better applied to other areas of need.
- The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will not be making this sort of intra-division trade (at least, they better not).
- There are already teams who have been linked to Paul Goldschmidt in early-winter conversations.
Below are the teams in the early-running for Paul Goldschmidt.
The Houston Astros make sense as trade partners on many levels. The team came close to making back-to-back World Series appearances, having won it all in 2017, only to run into the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in 2018. They will be returning with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in the rotation and Jose Altuve should be healthy and recovered for the season as well. Another point in Houston’s favor is that Paul Goldschmidt would be returning home if he went to play in Houston, something that could work heavily in their favor should they attempt to lock him up for additional seasons.
The Houston Astros match up well for the Diamondbacks. Of course, having one of the better farm systems in all of baseball, one needs to be careful when looking at Houston as a trade partner. Their top two prospects are Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley. Expecting the Astros to include either of these players in a trade for Paul Goldschmidt just isn’t reasonable.It could also be argued that their #3 prospect, OF Jordan Alvarez, is also asking for a bit much. Given that he’s an outfielder, it could also be argued that he doesn’t match up as well for the Diamondbacks anyway. That brings us to their #4 prospect, Josh James. James is a top-100 prospect that, depending on the source, ranks anywhere from 85-96. Developed as a starting pitcher, he made his debut as a reliever in 2018 and has 23 innings of MLB experience under his belt.
James represents a reasonable target for the Diamondbacks to expect back in a deal for Goldschmidt. James is a potential #3 starter for most teams. His fastball rates as a 60/65, while his slider has developed into a plus pitch 55/55, giving him the floor of a late reliever. With the Diamondbacks’ extreme need for stating pitching, Josh James represents a quality target that immediately addresses an area of team need while also providing future control. A lesser pitcher in the organization that matches up will is right-hander, Corbin Martin. Martin represents a higher upside than James, but is also still 1.5-2 years away from making his major league debut. Martin has the floor of a setup man or closer and the ceiling of a solid mid-rotation starter. Martin does not rank in the top-100 yet, but is on the cusp. A deal involving Martin for Goldschmidt likely entails additional, lesser talent coming to Arizona.
The Minnesota Twins are a difficult team to find a solid match with. As with the Astros, the twins top two prospects, Royce Lewis and Kirilloff are essentially untouchable. Their #3 prospect, right-hander Brusdar Graterol may also be a reach when shopping Paul Goldschmidt. That brings up Nick Gordon. While not ranked in the top-100, Gordon is one of the top shortstop prospects in the country. Gordon is a light-hitting speedster shortstop with an above average glove and a canon for an arm. Still, he probably doesn’t make the majors until mid-season 2019 for most systems. With Nick Ahmed ensconced at Shortstop, it’s likely that Gordon is unable to crack Arizona’s 25-man until September or 2020. That brings Arizona to Minnesota’s #5 prospect, Stephen Gonsalves, a left-handed starter who made his MLB debut in 2018 and who has a ceiling of a #3 starter. Gonsalves alone would not be enough, though it is possible that a combination of Gonsalves and Gordon might get the deal done, that sort of return probably favors Arizona too much for Minnesota to pull the trigger. While Arizona will be looking for the best-possible return in a Goldschmidt deal, the reality is, the lack of pitching prospects hurts Minnesota’s chances to remain competitive.
How interested the Bronx Bombers are in Paul Goldschmidt will likely hinge on how they address the Didi Gregorius injury situation. The reality is, the Yankees were a 100-win team in 2018 and may have already improved their roster by making the blockbuster deal for James Paxton. Additionally, they have recently cleared a rather large chunk of payroll, giving them all the flexibility they could ask for. Unless you are in the very small camp that believes the Boston Red Sox are likely to repeat their 2018 performance again in 2019, the Yankees are as probable a “contender” as any team in baseball. Currently, the Yankees are rostering Luke Voit as their starting first baseman. While he had a strong second-half for the Yankees in 2018, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned that he is not up to the task of manning the position for a team like the Yankees. Regardless of what one feels about Voit, it’s a given that he is not up to the level of Goldschmidt. The Yankees already showed a willingness to “overpay” for talent when they moved top prospect, LHP Justus Sheffield and others, to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for John Paxton. Despite that, it still seems unlikely they would part with either OF, Estevan Florial or RHP, Johnathan Loaisiga to acquire just one year of control of Paul Goldschmidt. Of course, if a bidding war ensues, New York has both a deep enough farm system and deep enough wallet that anything is possible. However, the most-likely “premium candidate” in a Goldschmidt trade would be RHP, Albert Abreu. Abreu is still about 1-1.5 years from his big league debut. He does profile as a #2 upside guy with the floor of a high-leverage reliever. Chances are, he’s more a #3/4 type, but the upside is real, as he already possesses three plus-grade pitches (fastball, change-up, and slider).
If there is a big name potentially available this winter, the Phillies are in on the hunt. Already the odds-on favorite to land Bryce Harper, the Phillies are also considered front-runners for Patrick Corbin and are known to be looking for a second impact bat. The problem for Philadelphia is, they will almost certainly have to overpay in order to land Goldschmidt. For a team just now reaching the beginning of their competitive window, the incentive to overpay simply isn’t there as much as it might be right before the window closes. As with the Astros and Twins before them, the Phillies would be ill-advised to trade either of their top two prospects (RHP, Sixto Sanchez and 3B Alec Bohm) to Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt. Philadelphia’s #3 prospect, Adonis Medina is also a likely overstretch. However, he also ranks as probably the baseline for a decent return from Philadelphia. After Medina, the talent drops precipitously, with Pavin Smith’s former teammate, Adam Haseley representing their fourth best prospect. Jojo Romero is a left-handed starter with a moid-rotation upside that is their next-best prospect. He is still about 1-1.5 years from being big league ready. He is also a much bigger risk to wind up in the bullpen than candidates from other teams as his size (6’0” 195 lbs) is going to forever work against him. Any deal with Philadelphia probably becomes a somewhat complicated one, or results in a Philadelphia overpay.
The Cardinals’ top prospect is RHP, ALex Reyes. He is probably about as untouchable as they come when it comes to making a deal with the Cardinals. Their next-best prospect is Nolan Gorman, a bat-first third baseman with 70-grade power. Given this front office’s proclivity for wanting decent gloves in the field, along with the recent signing of Eduardo Escobar, Gorman seems like a poor match. The next prospect though, might make plenty of sense. The next prospect on the list in St. Louis is RHP, Dakota Hudson. Hudson has been developed as a starter throughout his professional career, finally making his MLB debut out of the bullpen for the Cardinals in July. In 26 appearances Hudson pitched a very respectable 27.1 innings. The downside to Hudson is he simply does not miss enough bats for some scouts. He profiles as a #3 starter with two plus pitches (fastball and slider and two above average offerings (change-up and curve). His 70-grade fastball, along with his 60-grade slider, combined with his ground ball tendencies give him a profile that shows a high leverage reliever as his floor. Should he improve his ability to miss bats and get a better handle on his control, he could be an innings-eater in the middle of nearly any MLB rotation.
Clearly, there are dozens of other options out there when it comes to making a deal for Paul Goldschmidt. Other teams could become involved. The Diamondbacks could make other deals ahead of time that changes their player acquisition philosophy. Injuries, other trades, and free agent acquisitions by perspective teams could change the calculus in a hurry as well. However, these players at least represent a frank and honest review of what the Diamondbacks should reasonably expect as a baseline when discussing trading the current face of the franchise.