Chicago Cubs: Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals shifts the Central

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(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Everyone is focused on the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, but the St. Louis Cardinals are back in the mix after landing slugger Paul Goldschmidt.

The St. Louis Cardinals are the first National League Central team to strike this offseason, landing slugger Paul Goldschmidt via trade. The Cardinals will send pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young and a compensation draft pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the deal.

Wrigley Field has a new villain. After seeing the Chicago Cubs get the best of the rival Cardinals for the past three seasons, St. Louis finally gets the superstar they have been searching for in Goldschmidt.

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The six-time All-Star has solidified himself as one of the best all-around players in our game today and will undoubtedly give Cubs pitching headaches next season. Thankfully, at age 31, he’s entering his final year of team control.

Track record

While Goldschmidt is widely considered one of the best pure hitters in the league, he also gives the Cardinals one of the most versatile talents in the game today.

Goldschmidt has rivaled Anthony Rizzo as one of the National League’s best first baseman for the past five seasons. Having a proven talent at first base will allow the Cardinals to use Matt Carpenter primarily at third base. Goldschmidt’s presence should go a long way in shoring up a Cardinals infield that has struggled recently.

Ina down year in 2018, Goldschmidt still managed to slash .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs and 83 RBI. His WAR had been over 5 for the past four seasons, which include two MVP runner-up finishes.

Putting a talent such as Goldschmidt in the middle of any lineup will have a significant impact.

How will the Cubs respond?

Theo Epstein has been mum on his intentions for free agency. Besides some reports of the Cubs being linked to back-end bullpen arms, there has not been much indication as to what this front office has in store for the offseason.

It remains to be seen whether the Cubs will make a run at big-name free agents such as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, or if the team even has the budget to do so.

However, I wouldn’t take Epstein’s silence to mean that the Cubs will not be active in the coming weeks. Since Epstein has taken over the Cubs franchise, he has been one of the most active executives in the league, and I’d expect that to continue.

Even if the Cubs don’t land a big-ticket free agent, they will still find ways to upgrade.

With baseball’s annual Winter Meetings set to begin on Monday, expect the Cubs’ plan to become more revealing in the coming days.

Central prowess

Regardless of what else happens during the offseason, the Goldschmidt move brings a lot more excitement and competition to the National League Central. The Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers have all made it clear that they are gunning for a World Series in 2019.

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Personally, I think this is great for the game of baseball. Having rivalries that include star players across the board will create an interesting dynamic. The Cardinals struck first, and now Cubs nation will eagerly wait and see how Epstein responds.

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