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Cards strike Goldschmidt in trade

The Associated Press

The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt hits a two-run home run in an Aug. 31 game against the Dodgers.

The Associated PressPHOENIX (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals struck gold in their search for a big hitter, acquiring slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

Eager to push for the playoffs after a three-year absence, St. Louis sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young and a 2019 draft pick to Arizona.

A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner at 31, Goldschmidt was among the top players available in the trade market. He hit .290 with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs last season.

“We’ve been busy this offseason working to upgrade our lineup, and today we are excited to announce the acquisition of one of the game’s premier players,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said in a statement.

Goldschmidt has a $14.5 million salary next year, receives a $1 million assignment bonus for the trade and will be eligible for free agency after next season. The Cardinals have a history of acquiring top hitters and then signing them to long-term deals, including Mark McGwire and Matt Holliday.

St. Louis went 88-74 last season and felt it needed a boost in the middle of a lineup that includes Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to compete with the likes of Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals’ postseason drought is their longest since 1997-99.

Free-agent slugger Bryce Harper has supposedly been on the Cards’ wish list, too, with the winter meetings coming up this weekend. Last offseason, the Cardinals had worked out a deal with Miami for NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, but he refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Arizona went 82-80 in the NL West and finished behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado, which both made the playoffs.

The Diamondbacks parted ways with a homegrown player who grew to be the face of the franchise but is nearing the end of an extremely team-friendly contract. The quiet slugger was selected by Arizona in the eighth round of the 2009 draft and made his major league debut in 2011.

In 2013, Goldschmidt hit 36 home runs and drove in 125. In 2017, he matched that home-run high with 36 and drove in 120. He is a .297 career hitter with 209 home runs, and was runner-up in the NL MVP voting in 2013 and 2015.

“Certainly this is a bittersweet decision on our part,” Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said on a conference call. “I don’t think I could overestimate the impact that Paul had on our team.”

Hazen said the key to the deal was what the Cardinals offered in return. If there was no trade, the Diamondbacks faced the prospect of Goldschmidt leaving as a free agent after next season.

“There are decisions you want to do and there are decisions you know you have to do,” Hazen said.

He said he understood fans’ disappointment.

“Paul is possibly the best player in the National League,” Hazen said. “We understand that. We’ve understood that for a long time.”

Players fret over state of game

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players are concerned the Seattle Mariners have become yet another rebuilding team and might be joined by others following a season of steep attendance drops among clubs that faded early and never contended for the playoffs.

Union head Tony Clark and new collective bargaining director Bruce Meyer said Wednesday their members also are concerned about rapid change in the way games are played, such as the increased use of relief pitchers, and are willing to speak with management this offseason about whether counteracting changes are needed.

Altering the amateur draft to include an NBA-style lottery for the top picks, the 10-day disabled list and the 10-day minimum for the recall of players optioned to the minors are among the topics the union is prepared to talk about as part of a wider discussion. So are possible rules to counter offense-suffocating defensive shifts.

And the union maintains its agreement is necessary for any changes in anti-gambling rules in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that allows more widespread legal betting.

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