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MLB -- St. Louis Cardinals land superstar slugger they needed in trade for Paul Goldschmidt

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-12-06 10:00:19

The trade: St. Louis Cardinals acquire 1B Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handed starting pitcher Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and a Round B compensation pick in the 2019 draft.

Why the Cardinals did it: The Cardinals have been looking to add a superstar-caliber player for a few seasons now and finally got one in Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star who finished sixth in the MVP voting this past season. They went after David Price as a free agent, attempted to re-sign Jason Heyward and made a run at Giancarlo Stanton last offseason. Instead, they've settled for secondary pieces, signing Dexter Fowler in 2017 and acquiring Marcell Ozuna last winter.

Neither of those outfielders produced up to expectations in 2018, however, with Fowler hitting .180/.278/.298, and Ozuna playing through a shoulder issue and hitting .280/.325/.433 with 23 home runs, a big drop from his 2017 numbers with the Marlins. As a result, the Cardinals offense was good in 2018, but not good enough -- they ranked fifth in the National League in runs, eighth in on-base percentage and seventh in slugging percentage. They needed another big bat.

Enter Goldschmidt. Entering his final season before free agency, he'll be playing his age-31 season in 2019, but remains an excellent all-around player. He's not quite the hitter he was a few years ago -- his OPS peaked at 1.005 in 2015 and was down to .922 in 2018 -- and he's probably lost a step on the bases (32 steals in 2016, but just seven last season), but still hit .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs and was worth 5.4 WAR.

Goldsdchmidt struggled early in 2018 when he was striking out at a prodigious rate. His average dropped to .198 on May 22, but he made some tweaks to his set-up and hit .328/.418/.606 the rest of the season. In fact, ESPN Stats & Info reports that from June 1, just Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and J.D. Martinez had a higher OPS than Goldschmidt. Through May 22 he struck out 31.5 percent of the time with a swing-and-miss rate of 31 percent. From May 23, he fanned 22.4 percent of the time with a miss rate of 24.5 percent. If the Cardinals get that player over a full season, they just acquired an MVP candidate.

New teammate Matt Carpenter likes the deal:

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