PHOENIX – During a time when two of Arizona’s top franchises have played to a combined 7-29 record, the sports community took another hit with news that the Diamondbacks had traded their best-known player.
Paul Goldschmidt was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday in exchange for three young players and a draft pick. “Goldy” spent eight seasons with Arizona, was a six-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves at first base and four Silver Slugger awards.
The trade left many to wonder who will replace him as the face of the franchise.
“I think we have a number of players who have invested quite a bit into this team,” Diamondbacks Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Hazen said. “From Jake Lamb to David Peralta, Robbie Ray, Nick Ahmed, I think we have a number of players.
“Hopefully some of the younger players like Ketel Marte see this as an opportunity to take a lead in that area.”
Pitcher Archie Bradley and his much-celebrated beard may be the most recognized player on the team, which missed the 2018 playoffs after entering September in first place.
Since the Diamondbacks’ collapse, things have only gotten worse for local sports fans: The Suns are struggling at 4-20 and the Cardinals have dropped to 3-9.
Among the community’s major pro teams, the Coyotes have had the most success recently and are 13-11-2 entering tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.
The Arizona community embraced Goldschmidt for not only his talents – he smacked 33 home runs last year and batted .290 – but his service away from Chase Field. He and his wife, Amy, visited Phoenix Children’s Hospital for charity events and set up Goldy’s Fund 4 Kids, which helped the hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
The Diamondbacks in 2018 chose Goldschmidt as the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who shows exceptional kindness and sportsmanship through Major League Baseball.
Hazen said the decision was bittersweet but Goldschmidt “was very professional and respectful.”
“I think (Goldschmidt was) probably disappointed,” Hazen said on a conference call. “As much as he loves Arizona and has given to this organization and community, that I think is a natural feeling for a lot of players in these situations.”
Hazen and Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo met with Goldschmidt at Lovullo’s house Wednesday to inform him of the trade.
“We had a good conversation. We (Hazen and Lovullo) both told him how much he meant to us, personally and professionally,” Hazen said.
The Diamondbacks sent Goldschmidt and pitcher Patrick Corbin to the 2018 All-Star Game. Neither is still with the club.
Among other big departures from the team, infielder Chris Owings on Wednesday signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals.
“We have to take opportunities at times, as challenging as they may be, to try and infuse talent into the organization,” Hazen said. “We’ll see how the season plays out and we’ll see what happens moving forward. We have obviously a lot of work ahead of us.”
Right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver, infielder Andrew Young, catcher Carson Kelly and the No. 6 pick in the 2019 Competitive Balance Round B is what the Diamondbacks acquired from the Cardinals.
Weaver appeared in 30 games, starting 25 for St. Louis last season with a 4.95 ERA and 121 strikeouts over 136.1 innings pitched. Hazen said that Weaver will jump right onto the club along with Kelly.
“Weaver slots right into the rotation and Kelly we see obviously as an everyday catcher moving forward,” Hazen said.
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