By: Chris Larson
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a team that faces a major crossroad this offseason. A crossroad that consists of either going all in and attempting to compete next season amid an increasingly competitive National League or take the route of entering a rebuild and building up depth down in the farm system. Based on all indications thus far, it appears as though the Diamondbacks are leaning towards taking the latter option mentioned above, but only time will tell what happens as the offseason, progresses forward and the team gets a better read of where the market stands.
On the other hand, the Houston Astros are a team in the middle of their prime right now with all eyes set on making it back to the Fall Classic next season and taking advantage of getting another World Series Championship, while this window remains open. For the Astros, there is very little for the team to do this winter, with the exception of potentially looking for additional pitching depth given that Dallas Keuchel is a free agent, but the team does plan on offering Keuchel the Qualifying Offer of $17.9 million dollars, so that might not even be that big of a need after all. However, that doesn't mean that the Astros should negate themselves from looking at adding another upgrade to their lineup, especially at a position of need, that being first base.
In addition to the announcement about Houston planning to extend the Qualifying Offer to Dallas Keuchel, Jon Heyman also reported that the Astros weren't planning on extending Marwin Gonzalez the same Qualifying Offer. Gonzalez has long been a valuable versatile player for the Astros, but did take somewhat of a step backward offensively this past season compared to the offensive value that he provided over the course of the 2017 regular season. With Gonzalez out of the picture, that essentially leaves the Astros with, Yuli Gurriel, as their everyday first baseman.
Whether or not the Astros feel comfortable inserting, Yuli Gurriel, into the lineup as their everyday first baseman, remains to be seen, but they likely would feel more comfortable if they were able to find an even more substantial bat and someone with the durability to play first base 155-160 games a season. If that's what the Houston Astros want, then they should look no further than entertaining the idea about contacting the Arizona Diamondbacks to see what it would take to pry away All-Star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt.
Paul Goldschmidt, who turned 31 this past September, just had his $14.5 million dollar option picked up by the Dbacks this past week, but that does very little to give a hint as too whether or not the team plans on trading him this offseason or not. Goldy, as Arizona Diamondback and baseball fans alike have coined him since he made his official MLB debut in 2011, is originally from the Houston area, growing up in The Woodlands, a community north of the Houston metro area.
Essentially, the Houston Astros would be trading for a homegrown star, who some Houston residents and Astros fans could relate too, as well as a potential franchise icon that does tremendous community work. Thus far during Paul Goldcschmidt's tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Goldy has been recognized for his tremendous community efforts with the Phoenix Children's Hospital through his charity Goldy's Funds 4 Kids, which he started with the help of his wife Amy, and helped to captain the University of Phoenix scholarship program which helped him to win every year dating back to 2013.
Considering all of those community efforts and Goldschmidt's ability to be a leader off the field, the Houston Astros would benefit tremendously and could potentially entertain the idea of even extending Goldschmidt longer. As it currently stands, Paul Goldschmidt is slated to hit free agency after this season, but does have a $14.5 million dollar team option or $2 million dollar buyout option for the 2019 season, included within his contract. Given that Goldy is 31 years old, will weigh heavily on the minds of the Houston Astros when deciding whether or not to extend him longer, but there could still be quite a bit left in the tank and the Astros would know they are getting a very durable player.
Over the past four seasons, Paul Goldschmidt has started in at least 155 games. If you want to go back to the 2011 season when, Goldschmidt first made his MLB debut, he has started in at least 140 games, with the exception of his 2011 debut season, when he started in 48 games and the 2014 season, when he started in 109 games, after being placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured left hand. Besides that injury, Paul Goldschmidt has rarely missed time, which could always change as he ages, but there's a pretty good bet that if the Houston Astros were to acquire someone, like Paul Goldschmidt, they know they could write his name into the lineup for nearly every game considering the rare off day or two that Goldy tends to get throughout the course of the season.
If all of the reasons listed above still aren't enough to justify the Houston Astros making a trade for Paul Goldschmidt, consider his overall ranks among first baseman the past four seasons. Over that span, Goldschmidt has a cumulative batting line of: .301/.410/.538 over 2,755 plate appearances, the most of any qualified first baseman over that time. Furthermore, within that span, Goldy ranks third in home runs (126), third in RBI (408), first in stolen bases (78), third in walk percentage (15.0%), first in BABIP (.361), second in wOBA (.387), and first in WAR (22.6). We'll stop there because you could continue listing out offensive categories and Goldschmidt would rank in the Top 3 in every single one of them. That's how talented of a player he is and how much impact he has had on the Arizona Diamondbacks and could have with the Houston Astros.
On top of all of that, the Houston Astros would benefit from essentially lengthening out their lineup and presenting opposing teams with yet another potent bat in the middle of their lineup. It's not like the Houston Astros are starved offensively, but it is based on the notion that when you continue to throw intimidating hitters at an opposing team's pitcher such as Paul Goldschmidt, you give yourself an even better chance of getting runners on base and scoring runs when they are needed the most. Throughout the past season, there were flashes where the Astros had trouble scoring runs or getting hits in crucial situations, so with the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, it would make the lineup even deeper and potentially bring aboard someone to come through in those clutch situations.
Regardless, it's still hard to tell if the Houston Astros would even be in the market for a first baseman or if the Arizona Diamondbacks are serious about trading their franchise icon in Paul Goldschmidt, but given where Arizona is currently and the potential that they could lose Goldy after this season, now is the time to make a trade happen, if it's going to happen. The Houston Astros would be a great suitor and a franchise that would benefit tremendously from many of the "Goldschmidt Happens" moments that Arizona Diamondback fans have been treated to over the years, as well as, a player that embraces the team, franchise, and community that he represents.