Paul Goldschmidt is a product of genetics, outstanding parental up-bringing, and hard work. I also believe a strong aspect of his success is due to professional cooperation between SFX, the Diamondbacks and Goldschmidt, a cooperation that could not have existed in the very recent past.
Marvin Miller and Don Fehr led the Players Union from 1966-2009. They did not run the union like a democracy. Through most of those years, the owners were just as guilty at creating an environment of distrust and not one of partnership, but the owners knew union leadership would have no problem destroying the game for their own gain.
One specific behavior that I find atrocious was the bullying of players to go against their wishes for the "best" interest of the union. Thousands of players were strongly influenced to take the highest offer they received in free agency. They "owed" it to the union to move away from family. It was against code to give a "hometown" discount to the team that drafted you because you represent the high tide that needs to float the other boats. It was correctly called the "Players" Union and not a union for the player.
The old union leadership never felt the need to listen to it's constituents.
Michael Weiner has done wonders for both the players and the game. Since his leadership reign began, we have drug testing like we've never seen because he listened to his constituents.
But there's more.
Players also have something else that Weiner gave them that he doesn't get enough credit for: their freedom.
The Paul Goldschmidt contract would never have been accepted by the union in the Miller and Fehr days. His devotion to the union would have been attacked. His SFX representation would have been put on notice that their certification was in doubt. Goldschmidt would have been considered a bad union teammate if he accepted the deal. The union wasn't interested in player happiness, only union dues and future contracts.
In Spring Training, Goldschmidt signed a five-year extension for "only" $32 million. He's making $500,000 this season.
According to baseballplayerssalaries.com, Goldschmidt is the 682nd highest paid player in MLB. He takes up barely over half of 1% of the Diamondbacks' payroll but he's responsible for 21.6% of the team's on-field performance.
The Diamondbacks didn't have to give Goldschmidt the money. Although it looks brilliant now, keep in mind that it is one of the highest paid contracts to a player entering his second full season in Major League history. The Diamondbacks stuck out their neck just as much as Goldschmidt signing a contract he might easily out-play. Scott Boras not only wouldn't have let Goldschmidt sign the contract, he lambasted the agents who allowed it to happen.
It's amazing to me how little Miller, Fehr and Boras see the big picture. I suspect one of the reasons Goldschmidt is having a great season is because of the contract. Some players thrive under the pressure of the game, but a self-motivated person will always succeed at a higher rate when they know they have the support of their boss. If your company knows you will give all that you have, they receive the benefit of locking you up long term. The more concerns your employer can take off your plate, the more you can focus on production.
The Diamondbacks are extremely lucky that Paul Goldschmidt is one of the few in his generation that looks at a big contract with humility and thanks instead of being insulted. Paul Goldschmidt is extremely lucky that he was drafted by an organization that is willing to go so far above the norm for a player who has only played a year-and-one-half in the majors.
But we are the luckiest ones since we get to watch him through 2019.
Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf