Goldschmidt one of baseball’s best talents, biggest bargains
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Paul Goldschmidt, depending on one’s perspective, is either among baseball’s biggest bargains or one of its most underpaid players.
Amazingly, the runner-up for National League MVP two of the last three seasons is just the fourth-highest paid player on the Arizona Diamondbacks roster. Goldschmidt will earn $5.85 million this season, the kind of money that goes to an average baseball player these days.
And Goldschmidt is way above average.
Last year, the All-Star first baseman hit .321 with 110 RBIs, both second-best in the National League, and belted 33 home runs.
He is in the third year of a five-year, $32 million contract he signed in March of 2013, just as he was emerging as one of the game’s young talents. The deal includes an additional club option of $14.5 million that would keep Arizona’s best player under contract at an extremely reasonable price through 2019.
Teammate Zack Greinke earns more this season ($34 million) than Goldschmidt will in his entire five-year deal. Arizona outfielder Yasmany Tomas ($7.5 million) and recently signed reliever Tyler Clippard ($6.1 million) also will take home more money than Goldschmidt will this year.
Yet there is not one peep of complaint out of one of the sport’s most humble stars.
"It’s just not something I talk about," Goldschmidt said. "I don’t really care. The contract is what it is. I don’t even think about it — good, bad, indifferent. If I’m going to worry about the business side of baseball, that’s just going to be a distraction. My major focus is to go out there and prepare and to play well."
The Diamondbacks have no plans to revisit Goldschmidt’s contract anytime soon.
"It’s a great contract for us," team President Derrick Hall said. "I know certainly he was happy when he signed that contract. He’s a franchise player. We haven’t sat down to discuss either his contract or when we will address it again. It says a lot about him. I mean, Goldy is not one who is pushing for it. Goldy has never expressed any sort of disappointment or discouragement, nor has his camp. That’s really a credit to him."
Had the Diamondbacks rewarded Goldschmidt with a big extension, they probably wouldn’t have been able to shell out $206.5 million in the six-year deal that landed Greinke in Arizona and gave the team a bona fide ace at the top of its rotation.
That signing took Goldschmidt by surprise.
"I don’t know if shocked is the right word, but definitely you’re excited," he said. "You didn’t hear any rumors about it so it kind of came out of left field or however you want to say it. It was awesome. There was a lot of excitement. Guys started texting each other. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league so it’s awesome to have him on your side."
Last year was the first time manager Chip Hale got an extended up-close look at Goldschmidt and he was impressed by the player’s constant effort to get better.
"He sat in the food room here for an hour before we went out to stretch and talked with our pitching coach Mike Butcher and just picked his mind on what he thought of him," Hale said. "He’s just always trying to improve his game, always trying to step it up."
The first-year manager was equally impressed with Goldschmidt as a man.
"Maybe the better thing is I didn’t realize he’s as good a person on the field as he is at home," Hale said. "He’s a great family man. Those things are really important to me."
Goldschmidt is a new father. Son Jacob is six months old.
"He’s awesome," Goldschmidt said. "Everything’s great and I’m definitely enjoying it."
Getting Goldschmidt to talk much about himself or his accomplishments is a challenge.
"He gets embarrassed when people talk about how good he is," said center fielder A.J. Pollock, a friend and teammate of Goldschmidt’s since their early days in the minors. "That’s just his personality. He’s just a humble guy. That’s who he is."
Goldschmidt tries to explain why he so easily brushes aside talk of his success.
"Baseball is a humbling game," he said. "I think anytime you think you’ve got it figured out, it’s going to knock you down. … If I think I’ve got it figured out, it’s going to be a rough season or career. I’ve got to keep improving because everyone else is doing it. That’s just how I was taught."