If the St. Louis Cardinals hope to sign Paul Goldschmidt to a long-term contract — and they must — they need to get it done in spring training.
it’s nice that the team said during the Winter Warm-Up that it plans to attempt to get that done soon. The whole narrative it was sticking to that it would be a good idea to give Goldschmidt a chance to experience playing for the Cardinals before it makes its move is ridiculous. The team doesn’t have that kind of time to play with. Let’s be honest, if one of the best 20 hitters in baseball is allowed to make it to the end of spring training without a contract, the odds are slim that he’s not going to just go ahead and roll the dice by putting himself up for auction.
As I’ve said in this space before, the Goldschmidt situation puts the Redbirds in a bit of a jam because they’ve established that they don’t like to sign players to lengthy deals that run into their late 30s. The slugging first baseman is 31 and I suspect that it will take at least a six-year commitment to get him to sign on the dotted line before he hits the open market. But if the team lets him reach free agency, expect competition from teams like Goldschmidt’s hometown Houston Astros. Despite the hand wringing of St. Louis fans over the trade of Luke Voit to the Yankees, New York’s front office might decide that Goldschmidt is a better option. Or the Los Angeles Dodgers, if they don’t sign Bryce Harper — or maybe if they do — are always a threat to go big to land the brightest stars in the game.
The Birds can’t really sit around and wait to see what kind of year Goldschmidt has. If he has a great season, it will only make the price go up.
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Signing Goldschmidt now keeps things simple — and it allows the Cardinals to include 2019 as one of the years in his contract, shortening the deal on the back end.
The All-Star first baseman is going to make about $15 million bucks this year, which is about half of what the best players in baseball make. He’s probably weary of playing below market with his total earnings to this point totaling about one year of pay for Harper, Manny Machado or Albert Pujols. So it would probably go a long way to tear up the last season of his existing deal and replace it with the first of six seasons at $30 million to total $180 million.
The thing that is working in the Cardinals’ favor is the fact that the free agent market has been ice cold for the best players the last two years. Goldschmidt has been relatively underpaid for his accomplishments to this point. If the Birds make a good offer, it’s more likely than ever that he’d give up on the uncertainty of seeing if he could do better next winter.