Goldschmidt: The Key in 2019
By Austin Reimann
The key to the Rays success in 2019 could be Paul Goldschmidt, the perennial MVP candidate who lies dormant this October in the desert.
Paul Goldschmidt, perennial MVP candidate, elite run producer and gold glove defender could be the key to the Tampa Bay Rays success in 2019. The Rays will be looking to add an impact right handed bat this offseason and what better way to do so then by adding one of the best players in all of baseball, and an impacts exactly what he would provide. Goldschmidt hit 33 bombs and drove in 83 runners while hitting .290 and he is only a year removed from driving in 120 runs.
In an offseason that should prove to be one of the busiest in Rays history, acquiring Goldschmidt could be the most impactful offseason move in Rays history. The Diamondbacks, who have said that they are talking offers on Goldschmidt, are on the verge of a rebuild. The Rays are officially done rebuilding and have a plethora of young talent to send Arizona’s way as they look to add key pieces and get back to October in 2019.
In trading for Goldschmidt, they Rays would acquire one of the most consistent and productive hitters in baseball at a relatively low price in 2019.
Paul Goldschmidt Contract:
2019 will be the final year remaining on Goldschmidt’s six year team friendly contract. The final year of his contract comes in at a very reasonable 14.5 million dollars. With the added flexibility the Rays will have this offseason, the money is not what will get in the way of this deal. The only thing that will get in the way of this deal is the presumably high asking price.
Possible Asking Price:
The good news for the Rays is that he only has one year remaining on his contract and thus, the asking price won’t be as astronomical as it would have been if he had additional years remaining. With that being said, the asking price will still be very high due to his production levels and consistency. The asking price may very well be too high for Tampa Bay Rays executives to stomach, but this offseason I expect them to be a bit more aggressive than most.
I do believe that the Rays may have an advantage compared to other teams, due to their organizational depth ranging from rookie ball all the way to AAA. This depth is rivaled by few in Major League Baseball and really allows the them to offer different pieces at all levels to the Diamondbacks. As the Diamondbacks presumably enter their rebuild, trading Goldschmidt and getting a diverse return from the Rays could go a long way in re-stocking their farm system which is one of the worst in the game.
For this trade to work, I think that Jake Bauers will have to headline the package going to Arizona. The package would probably have to contain at least three projectable fielders and a top pitching prospect.
I think the return going to Arizona could look something like this, and possibly include more…
- Jake Bauers, 1B, MLB, 23
- Nick Solak, 2b, AA-AAA, 23
- Joe McCarthy, OF, AAA, 24
- Austin Franklin, RHP, A
Lets Break Down the Possible Package
- Jake Bauers, the 23 year old rookie first baseman was one of the many Rays who made their debuts in 2018. He hit .201 while smashing 11 homers and driving in 48 runs over 323 at bats. He showed projectable power and slumped down the stretch which dragged his batting average down. He is athletic enough to play first or either of the corner outfield positions and could be the centerpiece of a lineup going forward for years to come.
- Nick Solak, the Rays number 11 overall prospect according to MLB.com, hit .282 and slugged 19 homers while driving in 76. He provided solid defense while splitting time between second base and the outfield. In 310 total chances he committed only 2 errors.
- Joe McCarthy, the Rays number 17 overall prospect according to MLB.com, who played made the jump to AAA this year. There he hit .269 and hit 8 home runs, while driving in 25 runs over 160 at bats.
- Austin Franklin, the Rays number 20 overall prospect, put together a solid year at full season Single A Bowling Green. In 16 appearances which included 15 starts he had a 3.62 ERA across 82 innings pitched.
For the Diamondbacks, this package gives them an immediate replacement at first, one who is athletic enough to play a corner outfield position if needed. A second baseman of the future who could also play centerfield. An outfielder who is coming into his power and is at most a year away and more likely half a season away. Finally they get a pitcher they can send to AA and develop for a 2 or 3 more years while they rebuild.
This package contains three top 20 prospects along with a former top 10 prospect who just graduated to the big leagues this year.
What Does This Mean For the Rays?
There is a far reaching ripple effect of trading for Goldschmidt. It allows the Rays to allocate more money towards a veteran starting pitcher in the offseason and focus less on finding an impact right handed bat such as Nelson Cruz. Such an impact bat would require a minimum of a two year contract when they could get Goldschmidt for one year at a cheaper price. Also, they can spend more money on signing a catcher such as Grandal or Ramos, which add another impact bat.
With first baseman Nathaniel Lowe rapidly progressing in the minors there would likely be a log jam at first base by 2020 at the latest. Trading Bauers for Goldschmidt allows Lowe to progress for one more year and in 2020 while Goldschmidt holds down first base.
With Joey Wendle, Brandon Lowe, Kean Wong and Daniel Robertson all vying for playing time at second base in 2019 and beyond, there was no where for the Rays top 15 prospect, Nick Solak, to go in the future.
Joe McCarthy would have been stuck at AAA for the foreseeable future behind Austin Meadows, Mallex Smith, Tommy Pham, and Kevin Kiermaier along with the rapid rise of future star Jesus Sanchez.
Finally, Austin Franklin is still a couple years away and the Rays are focused on winning now.
If the Rays want to be playing baseball in October, this is the type of move that they need to make. An impactful move that will solidify the middle of their lineup and their infield defense. Acquiring a gold glove all star first baseman that has eluded the Rays since the days of Carlos Pena could be just the move that catapults the Rays into the postseason for the first time since 2013.
The question is not whether they Rays have the pieces available to acquire Paul Goldschmidt, but rather if Erik Neander and company are willing to pay the price? If they do, we could be in for an exciting 2019.