The St. Louis Cardinals are built to win now.
Unfortunately, constructing a successful major league team is not easy. There are variables that can be unseen, such as chemistry and health.
Currently, the Cardinals are in last place in the N.L. Central and ten games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. That is a massive surprise around the league.
St. Louis is 12 games under the .500 mark after losing six in a row and nine of their last ten games. They currently own the worst record in the National League. It is a long road back to relevancy for the Cardinals, but it is still early May. There may be time for them to get back into contention. But the only way for that to happen is if they have a major winning streak. Playing .500 baseball for the next month will not improve their possibility of playing playoff baseball this winter.
The Cardinals are an interesting team, as there are a few players on the roster who would be valuable to other teams in 2023 if the Cardinals decide to sell.
Paul Goldschmidt headlines the list of players, as the 35-year-old is a former N.L. MVP and capable of boosting any lineup. The right-handed hitter is due for free agency after the 2024 season, so his price tag would not be unreasonable if the Cardinals decide to explore the idea of moving their first baseman.
Enter the San Diego Padres.
After acquiring Juan Soto and Josh Hader last year, the Padres proved they are unafraid to pull the trigger on a deal. Nothing is out of the realm of the imagination of A.J. Preller, who is always on the lookout to improve the Padres roster.
Adding Paul Goldschmidt to the Padres’ already powerful lineup would strike fear around the league. His propensity to drive in runs would be effective, with Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto, and Manny Machado hitting around him. Goldschmidt is a seven-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove-award winner. He would be a huge upgrade for San Diego.
What would it cost the Padres to acquire the 13-year veteran with a no-trade clause?
Yes, he does have the right to veto any trade. Goldschmidt would love to come to a playoff-caliber team, though, and the notion would not be difficult to conceive. Also, who wouldn’t want to join the Padres pinata party? They play the game with energy and have fun. That has got to be enticing to a player at the tail-end of their career.
The cost would not be anything near what the Padres paid for Juan Soto, given Goldschmidt’s age and years remaining on his contract. That said, the Padres would still need to part with major talent. Jackson Merrill makes a lot of sense for St. Louis as they need a shortstop of the future. That position is not something that is open in San Diego with Xander Bogaerts on the roster and signed for the next decade-plus.
Merrill is a tremendous value, but he alone would likely not be enough to get a deal done. Sadly, a player like Ha-Seong Kim makes sense, though the Padres would be hard-pressed to deal the clubhouse favorite. Kim would likely lose playing time if the Padres traded for Goldschmidt, so it does make sense in that regard.
Jake Cronenworth has done excellent this year at first base. He is a plus defender and could easily transition back to second base if Goldschmidt is added to the roster. The D.H. is also a place the Padres could utilize Goldschmidt, though Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz have platooned well there this season for San Diego.
You make room for a player like Goldschmidt. It’s that simple.
In looking over the Cardinals roster, a few relievers may be of interest to San Diego as well. Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera are both useful veteran pitchers who have two-plus years of service time left on their current contracts. Cabrera is a lefty with a 2.31 ERA this season and a career 3.83 ERA in 153 games. The Dominican pitcher is solid and effective and could help the Padres bounce back from the injury to Drew Pomeranz, who doesn’t seem capable of pitching this year for San Diego.
Gallegos has closed for the Cardinals in the past and could help eat innings in a middle relief role for the Padres. The Mexican right-hander pitcher owns a career 3.07 ERA in 244 innings at the major league level. The Padres will need relief help at some point, and these two veterans would be an inexpensive addition.
For the Cardinals, their glaring need now and in the future looks to be starting pitching. Ryan Weathers makes sense for the Cardinals, and he could be an interesting addition to a trade package. St. Louis may further unlock the southpaw’s abilities in the game. The Padres may be able to package Merrill, Weathers, and a few prospects for Goldschmidt and a middle reliever. That would be a deal beneficial to both clubs as they head in opposite directions in 2023.
Losing Paul Goldschmidt may be a tough pill to swallow for Cardinals fans, but a deal now may produce the most value for the franchise. The first baseman will be 36 in September, and his production for the future does come with some uncertainty. For the Padres, adding Goldschmidt and his contract ($26 million for next season) is a small risk. Losing young players is difficult for the Padres, but they are built to win now, and players like Merrill and Weathers have a cloudy future on their roster.
We are still a ways from the Cardinals throwing in the towel on the 2023 season. But if they do, you can be sure A.J. Preller will be front and center. The Padres are not shy. This trade season should be very interesting for the San Diego Padres.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.