One of the top players in fantasy baseball is on the move, as the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade. Catcher Carson Kelly, pitcher Luke Weaver and prospect Andrew Young will join the Diamondbacks organization in return.
How does the deal impact the fantasy baseball landscape? Our experts weigh in:
Tristan H. Cockcroft: There'll probably be an assumption that Goldschmidt's fantasy value declines with his trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, based on longtime beliefs that Busch Stadium is an extreme pitchers' park, while Arizona's Chase Field is an extreme hitters' park. While the former is true, the latter wasn't so in 2018, as Chase Field had only the 11th-highest runs scored factor (1.057) and 20th-highest home runs factor (0.935), down from third (1.202) and fourth (1.196) in 2017. Yes, it's dicey to put much stock into single-year park factors, but Goldschmidt remained an excellent source of power despite Chase Field's addition of a humidor last year, so if he's to lose any of his hitting luster as a result of the trade, it'd probably be minimal -- maybe 1-3 home runs and 3-5 points of batting average. He'll also benefit from being a heart-of-the-order hitter in a lineup that will bat on-base specialist Matt Carpenter and possibly Jose Martinez ahead of him, so he might gain enough in RBIs (and perhaps runs scored on a stronger top-to-bottom offense) to offset the difference. I've moved Goldschmidt down only two overall spots, and none at all at first base, in my rankings.
The Diamondbacks' haul is the more interesting one in terms of changing fantasy values: Luke Weaver, a ground-baller with good command, should have a more committed rotation spot on a rebuilding team, while Carson Kelly has a much clearer path to at least part-time at-bats, which is a good thing in deep-mixed and NL-only leagues where the catcher pool is so poor.
Eric Karabell: Well, the Cardinals' lineup sure looks a lot better now with Goldschmidt in the middle of it. St. Louis sent some interesting players to the Diamondbacks and they are the story of the deal for fantasy purposes, because, after all, Goldschmidt's value is about the same. Say what you want about hitting in Arizona and his slow start in 2018, but this is one of the most consistent players in the sport. Perhaps he can even return to stealing more bases in his new home.
Fantasy managers should look for good things from Weaver and Kelly. The former struggled last season and ended up in the bullpen, but still has a future as a potential top-25 fantasy starter if he can limit hard contact and his changeup can be more effective against left-handed hitters. I will not rank him as a top-50 starter yet, but he is a strong sleeper option for your final pitcher spot. Give him April. The upside is huge.
Kelly never had a shot because Yadier Molina is/was never going to retire. We think Kelly can hit and I would not be surprised if he ends up a top-10 fantasy catcher as soon as 2019. He has modest power, but excellent plate discipline. He should hit at least .275. If he does that with 12 home runs, take it as the last pick in your draft. Do not take catchers in one-catcher leagues early.
AJ Mass: There's not much to add that my colleagues haven't already said. St. Louis got the following production out of the 1B position -- the majority of which came from the combination of Carpenter and Martinez -- in 2018: .271 BA, 39 HR and 113 RBI.
Last season, Goldschmidt hit .290 with 33 HR and 83 RBI in what could have been so much better if not for a horrific month of May. I think he'll be just fine in his new digs, matching 2018's output at a minimum.
On the flip side of the coin, the biggest impact for Arizona will be the addition of Kelly, who should present an immediate upgrade over the current backstop tandem in terms of cutting down would-be base-stealers. Since 2014, he's compiled a 33.0 percent Caught Stealing Percentage. Over the last three seasons, the great Yadi has managed only a 28.3 percent CS%.
If Kelly can hit over the Mendoza line while handling backstop duties, he could easily become an everyday option for a team that saw a trio of catchers bat just .189 at the position in 2018. At other positions, 10 HR and a .260 BA is nothing to write home about. I can see Kelly potentially doing that, putting him at least in the conversation for a 12-team league catching option in the latter rounds of your draft.