Paul Goldschmidt wanted to stay in St. Louis, just like Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and Matt Holliday.
Acquired in December from Arizona, the six-time All-Star first baseman gave up a chance to become a free agent after this season when he finalized a new contract with the Cardinals on Saturday that guarantees an additional $130 million from 2020-24.
With a big fan base that usually fills Busch Stadium, the Cardinals are an attractive team for many players.
"Everything I heard about St. Louis and the organization is more than great." Goldschmidt said
Goldschmidt has a $14.5 million salary this season in the option year of a contract he signed with Arizona ahead of the 2013 season. That deal originally guaranteed $32.5 million for six years and will wound up paying $46 million for seven seasons, including a $1 million assignment bonus for the trade.
He has yet to spend an extended period in St. Louis. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was sure at the time of the trade that the city would sell itself.
"I thought maybe it would be beneficial for him to see St. Louis, be a part of St. Louis and then ultimately visit it then or at the end of the year," Mozeliak said.
McGwire was acquired from Oakland in July 1997 and agreed two months later to a $28.5 million, three-year contract rather than test the market. Edmonds was obtained from the Angels in March 2000 and reached a $57 million, six-year deal that May. Holliday arrived in a swap with the Athletics in July 2009, became a free agent and agreed in February to a $120 million, seven-year deal.
Goldschmidt has earned three Gold Gloves. He is a career .297 hitter with 209 homers.
St. Louis got Goldschmidt in exchange for pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly and minor leaguer Andy Miller. Mozeliak said he originally expected to try to negotiate the deal during the season. Discussions started in early March,
"As we were talking I said, 'Hey, do you want to give it a shot?'" Mozeliak recalled. "He said, 'Yeah.' I said all right.'"
There was an advantage to completing the deal before opening day.
"It's beneficial to get it done before and just focus on playing the game and the season," Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt will turn 37 just before the contract expires.
"The unknown in baseball is always when someone hits a cliff," Mozeliak said. "You just don't know. We felt this was a unique opportunity for us and we just couldn't let it go by."