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Weighing pros, cons of Goldschmidt for Cards

Impact bat available from Arizona, under contract for one season
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- To pursue or not to pursue? That is among the questions facing the Cardinals this offseason as they find themselves searching for another big offensive piece at the same time the D-backs are dangling perennial All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as available via trade.

Reasonable arguments can be made regardless of which side of this debate you fall on. Let's explore those here as we replicate some of the current discussion within the Cardinals' front office on this same subject:

ST. LOUIS -- To pursue or not to pursue? That is among the questions facing the Cardinals this offseason as they find themselves searching for another big offensive piece at the same time the D-backs are dangling perennial All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as available via trade.

Reasonable arguments can be made regardless of which side of this debate you fall on. Let's explore those here as we replicate some of the current discussion within the Cardinals' front office on this same subject:

He is that missing impact bat
If the Cards hope to rewrite their offensive identity through one addition, they couldn't do much better than Goldschmidt. Since his first full season in 2012, he has a .934 OPS -- .400 on-base and .534 slugging. All three of those percentages rank in the Majors' top seven. Steamer projections have Goldschmidt outproducing free agent Bryce Harper in OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR next season, as well. Goldschmidt would seamlessly fill the void in the Cardinals' No. 3 hole, but ...

He is not a left-handed hitter
Goldschmidt would make an already unbalanced offense even more so, as it'd leave the Cards with a lineup that would likely feature just two left-handed batters (Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong). The Cardinals' preference would be to add another lefty hitter to the top half of the lineup to further complicate opponents' matchup decisions. Such a player (hint: Harper) is available on the free-agent market if the Cards consider this too important an element to compromise. One key difference, though, is that Goldschmidt ...

Would fill a void on the infield
Adding a corner infielder would better fit the current roster given that the Cards already have three right fielders -- Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neill. Goldschmidt would also bring needed defensive stability to first base, where he's a three-time Gold Glove winner. In turn, however, this would necessitate ...

A move across the diamond for Carpenter
Even though Carpenter ranked fourth among all National League third basemen (min. 500 innings) with six Defensive Runs Saved this year, there are still concerns about his range and arm strength if he were to play the position for a full season. He has an unorthodox throwing motion that some believe puts unnecessary strain on his right shoulder. But keep in mind that the move could be temporary for the versatile Carpenter because acquiring Goldschmidt ...

Does not handcuff the franchise for the long term
Hesitant to hand over the biggest contract in franchise history to a free agent looking to earn in excess of $300 million? There's no such catch with Goldschmidt. He is due to make $14.5 million in 2019, the final year of his contract. That's a bargain relative to expected production, and it won't restrict the Cardinals financially as they seek additional upgrades. Of course, that also means that ...

This could only be a short-term fix
Finding another middle-of-the-order hitter has become a perennial offseason exercise for the Cards. And they'd love to end that recurring search now. In a perfect world, the Cardinals would add to their offensive core with a player who is guaranteed to be in St. Louis for many years and marketable as a fresh face of the franchise. That's easier said than done and isn't something a trade for Goldschmidt would offer. However, making this deal now would ...

Increase the chances of signing him long term
The Cardinals believe in their product and have shown a willingness to bet on it by bringing in players with the hope that a short stint in St. Louis will be enough to sell them on a permanent stay. It was the method through which the Cardinals were able to re-sign players like Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Matt Holliday. As Jason Heyward revealed a few years ago, though, this is not a foolproof blueprint and taking such a gamble comes with ...

A high prospect cost
Even if the Cardinals intend to go all-in on re-signing Goldschmidt, they'd have to determine how much talent they are willing to part with knowing they aren't assured anything beyond '19. When the Cards went through this with Heyward, it cost them two first-round picks. The D-backs aren't likely to part with their best player for anything less signficant. One key wrinkle in such a transaction, though, is that the Cards would be positioned to recoup some of that lost talent. They would almost certainly extend Goldschmidt a qualifying offer next winter, and if he leaves ...

The club would secure a compensation pick
This would be a first-round pick, so there is definite value there. In some ways, it would offer a zero-sum proposition for any first-round Draft pick sent to Arizona to land Goldschmidt in the first place. But even if the Cards do enhance their chances of finding elite talent in the 2020 Draft, having Goldschmidt depart after one year would put the club in a spot where ...

The next offseason could be overwhelming
One of the reasons the Cards prefer to avoid a bandage fix for 2019 is that they're already forecasting sweeping changes next offseason. If Goldschmidt were to come and go within a calendar year, the Cardinals would be left trying to replace two middle-of-the-order hitters (Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna) and two key rotation members (Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha) next offseason. That would be a huge undertaking.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt