Patrick Corbin is now a Washington National, and many Yankee fans (including myself) are disappointed. However, there’s another name that was taken off of Brian Cashman’s offseason target list, which Yankee fans should arguably be equally crestfallen about. That name is Paul Goldschmidt, who the Diamondbacks sent to the Cardinals for Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Andy Young, and a compensation Round B pick in next year’s draft.
Goldschmidt doesn’t need an introduction, but in the interest of meeting my word count here’s a quick primer on his career. Goldy had an impressive debut in 2011, posting a 118 wRC+ over 48 games. Since then, he’s never had a season wRC+ below 120. His last three marks have been 133, 142, and 145.
Such offensive numbers would be great for even an unathletic, lumbering slugger, but Goldschmidt is much more than that, as he owns a solid glove (career 50 DRS) and can hold his own on the bases (career 22.3 BsR). As first basemen go, Goldschmidt is the complete package.
Any contending team (well, except maybe the Braves) would have been ecstatic to land Goldschmidt, but boy, did the Yankees ever need him. The last time the Yankees had an above-average first baseman was 2015, when Mark Teixeira defied all odds and slugged 31 dingers in a characteristically injury-shortened year. Since then, the position has been manned infrequently by the equally often hurt Greg Bird, whose DL trips and general ineffectiveness have led to Tyler Austin and even Chris Carter getting more than their fair share of playing time.
Sure, Luke Voit was a pleasant surprise in 2018. He probably won’t hit for a 187 wRC+ going forward, but there’s reason to think that he could be an average-ish regular next year. But why should the Yankees settle for that when they could have had one of the best first basemen in the sport? First base has been a problem for the Bombers for too long, and Goldschmidt, not Voit, was the best option they had for 2019. So long for that course of action.
Now, it’s tricky to figure out whether the Yankees could indeed have put together a prospect package more appealing than the Cardinals’. By FanGraphs’ Future Value grades, Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly both graded as 50s, with Andy Young earning a 40 mark. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ current top two prospects - Albert Abreu and Estevan Florial - were also deemed to be 50 FV assets, and the Yankees have no shortage of 40 FV arms in the high minors. Going strictly by FV, it seems like the Yankees could have put up an offer similar to the Cardinals’ winning bid.
Granted, the Cardinal’s package looks considerably better than the Yankees’ when you consider risk and proximity to the majors. Weaver and Kelly have already made their MLB debuts, while Abreu reached Double-A for the first time in 2018, and Florial had a so-so season in High-A and missed two months of development time with a hamate injury. Given that the Diamondbacks are looking for a reload rather than a full-on rebuild, it would make sense if they were looking for low ceiling, high floor MLB-ready prospects rather than the Yankees’ volatile duo. Still, with MLB pieces like Domingo German, Tyler Wade and Luke Voit to go along with Abreu and Florial, I still think the Yankees could have made a competitive offer.
The Yankees have long needed a quality player at first base, and if 2018 taught them anything, it ought to be that a lineup can never be long enough. Plus, now that Patrick Corbin has become a National, the Yankees’ quest for top-flight starting pitching has gotten considerably more difficult, putting added pressure on them to compensate by strengthening their lineup. Paul Goldschmidt was all the Yankees could have ever asked for, and he’d have been a relatively feasible get to boot. Alas, it looks to yet be another year with large question marks surrounding first base for the Yankees.