JUPITER, Fla. • Before they could officially present Paul Goldschmidt and his newly inked extension, the largest contract ever in club history, the Cardinals had to first find Paul Goldschmidt.
The Cardinals’ first baseman, a fixture now for the team through 2024, was in the batting cage preparing for Saturday’s game while team officials and his family waited on a patio outside the team’s clubhouse for a press conference focused on him. The Cardinals lured him eventually to the outdoor venue so that the front office could announce the five-year extension, all while Goldschmidt’s teammate watched him try to avoid the spotlight.
“I wanted the focus to be on baseball,” Goldschmidt said.
The Cardinals and the six-time All-Star agreed to terms Thursday and completed the deal Friday that will pay Goldschmidt $130 million over the next six seasons. That sum includes a $20-million signing bonus, and it also has a no-trade clause, no-opt clauses, and the usual bonus structure for awards, like National League MVP and All-Star Game. During the press conference, John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said the strategy the team used to approach Goldschmidt about an extension was not a surefire one.
“Hope,” Mozeliak said. “Which is sometimes dangerous. But it worked out.”
Goldschmidt, 31, was acquired this past December in a four-player trade with Arizona, and on his first day as a Cardinal ownership said they intended to pursue an extension with him.
That conversation did not happen until about two weeks ago, and from there discussions sped up aggressively. Goldschmidt proved receptive to the Cardinals’ initial overture, and Mozeliak and Goldschmidt’s agent, Casey Close, worked over the past week to find an agreeable middle. As recently as earlier this month, the Cardinals did not expect to get much traction on extension talks and thought they would dip into the season, after Goldschmidt got a chance to call St. Louis home for a month or two of the season and was able to play at Busch Stadium.
They worked with no deadline, no presumption of a timeline, and no pressure. Goldschmidt said Saturday that he did not want to enter the season with extension talk looming, preferring to do it now – or after the season.
“Definitely it’s beneficial to get it done before and just focus on playing the game and on the season,” Goldschmidt said. “You don’t want any distractions for the team or for the individual or the organization. I was just looking forward to getting ready for opening day and trying to help us win.
"It’s great to be a part of this tradition and I hope we’ll do some great things here."
Asked when he became receptive to an extension, Goldschmidt paused.
“That’s a good question,” he said.
For him, like the Cardinals, it apparently came gradually, organically over the course of spring training. He said that the frigid free-agent market did not influence his decision. He preferred to know where he was going to play for the next six years, where his family was going to reside in the summer, and this contract gave him the opportunity.
His teammates had gathered on the patio outside their clubhouse to watch the press conference. The workouts at the facility paused so the major-league roster could be present.
Some even left the batting cage to see it.
Goldschmidt becomes the most-decorated first baseman the Cardinals have had since Albert Pujols left after the 2011 World Series championship. Goldschmidt is the only National League player selected for the previous six All-Star Games. His career slugging percentage leads all first baseman in the past six seasons, and he ranks alongside Mike Trout, Joey Votto, and Giancarlo Stanton when it comes to offensive productive in the past six seasons.
The new contract will start with the 2020 season. The total value of the deal exceeds the seven-year, $120-million contract the Cardinals and Matt Holliday agreed to in January 2010. In 2020, the annual average value of Goldschmidt’s contract will make him the highest paid Cardinal ever, surpassing Yadier Molina’s $20 million for this and next season.
“I want to congratulate Paul for this extension,” said chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. “But also thank him for believing in the Cardinals and for what he will do for our franchise as we move into the future.”
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