Last week I explored the possibility of a Paul Goldschmidt extension. If you didn’t read it, I think you should, but here’s the gist: the D-backs, if they act quickly, could save money by extending Goldy. To do so, however, they need to trade Zack Greinke sooner than later. That’s no small issue. No matter the discount, Arizona can’t afford to pay what they’re paying for Greinke and extend Goldschmidt without expanding payroll in a monumental way. We have no indication that’s in the cards.
As a quick aside, that’s an issue in and of itself. Back in early 2015, the Diamondbacks inked a new television deal with FOX Sports Arizona that reportedly increased team revenues by $30 million annually. That deal went into effect in 2016, and while it sounds like the team borrowed from the future to sign Yasmany Tomas (sigh), we haven’t really seen payroll escalate in a major way. The D-backs are also slated to receive $50 million (or more) from BAMTech thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the MLB Advanced Media spin-off. Not seeing that money reinvested in the team is worthy of sharp critique. But perhaps those funds are part of why the team remains connected to guys like Manny Machado and J.D. Martinez this winter. It’s awfully hard to say.
Thanks for obliging and back to the topic at hand. Nick Piecoro shared his thoughts on the Goldschmidt situation on Monday, providing some insights and quotes about the situation. The quote below captures the essence of the issue well:
…the recent rhetoric (from the front office) gives off a different vibe: It feels more like the club’s decision-makers are subtly preparing for the possibility of life without Goldschmidt. Not that they’re expecting to move on; just that they might have to.
It’s not so much that the team can’t possibly afford Goldschmidt, it’s just that if they were to make an attempt to, they’d likely find themselves in the same boat they’re in now — tying up a lot of payroll in one player and limiting their financial flexibility. In trading Greinke to afford Godly, they’d have to surely eat some of the pitcher’s deal. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the team had to eat $30 million of the contract and didn’t have to take a bad contract in return. That’d mean they would be paying $7.5 million per season to make Greinke go away. Add the $24 million annual salary I mocked for a Goldschmidt extension and that’s still $31.5 million total dollars per season over much of the length of the extension. Greinke currently makes $34 per season (with some portion deferred) and $31.5 million is not drastically less. Again, all of this assumes that they can move Greinke without taking payroll back in return and that Goldschmidt agrees to another team-friendly extension, both of which are wild assumptions.
So if the Diamondbacks can’t afford to tie up a huge portion of their team’s salary in Greinke, they probably can’t afford to tie up a huge portion of their team’s salary in trading Greinke and extending Goldschmidt.
We can debate the merits of keeping #AmericasFirstBaseman. He is, after all, the face of the franchise. Paul Goldschmidt is younger than Zack Greinke. Hitters get hurt less often than pitchers. On the other hand, the team has had an easier time finding and/or developing hitters than it has with pitchers in the past. Pavin Smith could be the heir apparent to Goldy and he’s already working his way through the minors. Jake Lamb could also be a first base candidate down the line, and while his splits haven’t gone away, he could be cheaply platooned. If Goldschmidt does walk, there are options. It’s just that these options are far less certain than writing “Goldschmidt” on the lineup card every day.
The point of the original point still stands. Goldy can be extended, at least in theory. How open is he to such a deal? We have no real idea. Does the team see it as a priority? Spring training isn’t far off and they have more pressing needs. How close is the team to being able to deal Zack Greinke? It doesn’t sound particularly close, at least not on the terms I’ve outlined. And if Greinke goes, can they do a little something to mitigate the drop off? Sure, but a move of that nature would be a gamble (albeit a relatively cheap one). There are so many contingent pieces here that an extension is just a shot in the dark right now, but it’s never too early to be thinking “what if” in either direction.
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