ST. LOUIS – Paul Goldschmidt, the 2022 National League MVP, could become a free agent next year if the St. Louis Cardinals don’t come through with a contract extension.
Now 36 years old, Goldschmidt has one more season remaining on a five-year, $130 million contract that took effect in 2020.
To date, it remains the richest contract the Cardinals have offered to a position player in franchise history, and it’s held up fairly well. Paul Goldschmidt has been a mainstay amid some major roster changes in recent years, also averaging around 30 home runs, 100 RBI and a .286 batting clip at a full-season pace with St. Louis.
Where do the St. Louis Cardinals go from here? Derrick Goold, lead Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, noted at the end of the 2023 season that Goldschmidt and the Cardinals at least intend to discuss a potential extension.
With the Cardinals aggressive in the pitcher’s market in recent weeks, and teasing possibly more moves, extension talks could possibly take a back seat until later this winter. Leading up to it, the Cardinals front office needs to consider how Goldschmidt might fit into long-term plans at first base and for the team as a whole.
On one hand, the Cardinals have a steady contributor who has proven to be a strong mentor for many young Redbirds and a mindset to consistently aim for improvement.
On the other hand, Goldschmidt is approaching an age where it gets harder to sustain top-notch production and tricky to offer a contract longer than a few years.
To some extent, this situation mirrors what the Cincinnati Reds had to consider with longtime franchise icon Joey Votto this past season. Also a first baseman, Votto was the 2010 NL MVP and a force for much of the 2010s decade, but he missed significant time to injuries over his last four seasons.
The Reds have embraced a youth movement in recent seasons and even came within a few games of an unexpected postseason berth. Votto struggled at times this past season, but was still admired by his teammates for his experience. His lengthy long-term contract came with a club option to extend him one more year for 2024. The Reds ultimately declined it weeks ago.
Not all variables are the same with Goldschmidt’s situation in St. Louis, but it’s worth noting the Cardinals experimented with several players at first base last year during some games that Goldschmidt DH’d. They also had a rotating cast there between his time in St. Louis and the legendary run of Albert Pujols.
In the case that extension talks start moving forward, there were two deals involving veteran first basemen offseason that could serve as benchmarks for what Goldschmidt and fans might expect. Anthony Rizzo signed for two years and $40 million with the New York Yankees, while Jose Abreu signed for three years and $58 million with the Houston Astros.
The Winter Meetings, a time in which lead executives from the Cardinals and other teams meet to discuss business and potential trades, begin Sunday and run through Wednesday in Nashville. A Goldschmidt extension offer will likely not be the top priority at the Winter Meetings, but perhaps the Cardinals could keep exploring what’s still available in the pitchers’ market.