The St. Louis Cardinals, currently at the bottom of the AL Central with a disappointing record of 27-40, seem likely to become sellers before the 2023 trade deadline. Among the players who could attract interest from contending MLB teams, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt stands out as the most intriguing option.

Despite the Cardinals' struggles, the 2022 NL MVP, Goldschmidt, continues to produce solid numbers. With a current slash line of .286/.380/.492, Goldschmidt shows no signs of aging and remains a valuable asset. However, his age (35) might be a concern for teams considering a trade with the Cardinals, but it could also be a reason for the Cardinals to explore a trade.

Given their lack of contention this season, Goldschmidt's contributions may be wasted on the team. The Cardinals have been attempting to transition to a younger roster, parting ways with longtime fan favorites such as Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols in the previous season, with Adam Wainwright following this season. With Goldschmidt being the oldest player on the team after this season, it raises the question of whether the Cardinals believe they can build a competitive team around him in 2024. If not, the optimal strategy would be to trade him now and maximize their returns, especially considering that he has only one year remaining on his contract.

While the Cardinals have experienced offensive struggles earlier in the season, they seem to have somewhat improved in that regard. However, their pitching remains abysmal, with the third-worst opponents' batting average (.266) and the 11th-worst starting pitching ERA (4.60) in the league. Even with Goldschmidt's contributions to the offense, which has the seventh-best slugging percentage (.425) in the league, his impact becomes diminished if the Cardinals cannot prevent opponents from scoring. Therefore, it is crucial to consider which teams can benefit from Goldschmidt's abilities at this point.

Potential trade destinations

The introduction of the designated hitter in both leagues has expanded the market for Goldschmidt. One potential landing spot that holds significant promise is the Minnesota Twins. While the Twins are currently at a .500 record, they sit atop the AL Central. Acquiring Goldschmidt would bolster their lineup and solidify their position as contenders. In exchange, the Cardinals could secure talented outfielder Alex Kirilloff, who has immense potential. This trade would benefit both teams, providing the Cardinals with a foundation for future success and offering the Twins a formidable offensive force. However, it would not address the Cardinals' pitching issues.

Another option could be the Houston Astros, who have been dissatisfied with Jose Abreu's performance since his acquisition from the Chicago White Sox, says ESPN's Jeff Passan. Abreu's defensive shortcomings and limited power production have left the Astros seeking alternatives. Adding Goldschmidt's bat to their already formidable lineup would be a significant upgrade, making this trade a viable option. The Astros could potentially offer some of their pitching in return.

While less likely, a trade with the New York Mets would generate significant headlines. The Mets obviously have no need for a first baseman, even if Pete Alonso is hurt for the time being. But they could use someone to replace DH Daniel Vogelbach, who’s in the middle of a dismal season, batting .203.

The Mets, like the Cardinals, have been disappointing this season and are in need of bullpen reinforcements rather than another bat in their already solid lineup. It’s doubtful the Mets could meet the Cardinals' trade requirements, as their current farm system lacks enticing assets. But Mets’ owner Steve Cohen loves aging players at a hefty price, so don’t put it past New York to at least make a call.

Goldschmidt's decision

A critical factor in any potential trade involving Goldschmidt is his no-trade clause. Goldschmidt holds the final approval on any deal, giving him the power to determine his destination.

By parting ways with Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals can pave the way for an infusion of young talent. Emerging players like Jordan Walker, Juan Yepez, Masyn Winn, and Luken Baker eagerly await their chance to shine and carry the Cardinals into the future. Trading Goldschmidt with the hopes of other promising prospects from another team would be a strategic move that could put the Cardinals right back in the hunt for a division title soon.