The Colorado Rockies made headlines last off-season with their MVP-caliber third baseman after giving him an eight year, $240 million deal. It seemed Arenado was in it for long haul with the Rockies as he expressed his desire to stay at the hot corner in the Mile High City for years to come. That won’t come to fruition as the Rockies have agreed to a deal that will send the 5X All-Star to the St. Louis Cardinals.
There is a lot to process in this deal. Nolan has a no trade clause he still has to waive to have the deal get done. Arenado also has two different opt-out clauses in the his contract; one allows him to become a free agent after the 2021 season. The power Nolan holds over his future makes this a tricky deal. Nolan wants to win and it seems he will waive the no trade clause to make that a reality. The money he is owed isn’t concerning because he is well worth it and for the Cardinals, Colorado has agreed to send $50 million to St. Louis to help the deal get done. While there are some weird intricacies to the deal, the oddest thing seems to be the Rockies desire to move off of one of the top players in the league.
This is the third player we have seen in the past year who’s a legitimate MVP candidate. So-called small market teams are choosing to cut spending and tank in order for the owners to save some money. All it is really doing is hurting the overall product of the league. While the Rockies may play in a division with two great teams, they themselves have some talent and could’ve been competitive in 2021. Now, I expect them to trade off the remaining pieces they have and sink into mediocrity for the next decade. Another great player like Arenado will along six or seven years from now and they’ll eventually trade them off too. I might seem a bit melodramatic in saying all this, but it’s just the way the organization had operated. They did the same thing to Troy Toluwitzki and Matt Holliday and will eventually do it to Trevor Story.
As far as the deal is concerned, the Cardinals comes out like gangbusters. They get a superstar and are being paid for it while not having to give up any of the team’s prize prospects. The two teams are still working out the details of deal, but from what has been reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan none of the Cardinals premier prospects are leaving the team. Per MLB Pipeline, St. Louis has three top 50 prospects and none of them are mentioned in the package returning to Colorado. If that is the case, there is no real way the Rockies can spin this trade in a positive light. In my opinion, the Cardinals would need to give up two of their prized assets to make this deal seem feasible for the Rockies.
Some people may not realize just how good Nolan is and how big of a deal this is for the Cardinals. National League Central teams have been averse to getting better this off-season and this deal puts St. Louis squarely in front of everyone else in the division. With Chicago publicly putting some of their best players on the market, the Reds not making any moves to get better, and the Pirates trading away anyone the only real competition is Milwaukee. St. Louis won the NL Central title 2019 and I’m betting they do it again.
Arenado for his career has slashed .293/.349/.541 while averaging a WAR of 4.9 per season. Some may cite the hitter-friendly Coors Field being a reason why he’s been so good. That’s understandable. He has a career OPS under .800 on the road for his career. His offense isn’t all that makes him great, though, as he’s one of the best defenders in the league. He’s won the Gold Glove Award eight times in his career and won the Platinum Glove four times. He’s legitimately in the conversation for best defensive third baseman of all time and has put up gaudy offensive numbers to go along with that. Factoring in that he’s only 29 and has probably another five or six years playing at this level it just made too much sense for the Cardinals to make this move.