The prospect of an extension between the Rockies and star third baseman Nolan Arenado doesn’t seem likely in the near future, as Arenado tells MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (Twitter links). “I don’t think anything is going to happen until after the season. We have a good team and our focus is on winning — as it should be,” Arenado said. He also added “and that’s what everyone wants,” which could indicate that both he and the Rockies are content to table negotiations for the time being.
There has been some inevitable speculation about Arenado’s future as he gets closer to free agency, and Colorado GM Jeff Bridich said in December that “there definitely are conversations that will happen” between the team and the player about a potential extension. That said, there also isn’t yet any pressing need for talks between the two sides given that Arenado is controlled through the 2019 season. The third baseman will earn $17.75MM in 2018 as per the terms of a two-year deal signed in January 2017 that covered two years of Arenado’s arbitration eligibility. He is eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before hitting the open market in the 2019-20 offseason.
The Rockies have historically shown a willingness to spend big to keep star players in-house, as evidenced by past extensions for Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez. It is worth noting that all of those deals were made during the tenure of former general manager Dan O’Dowd, though Bridich has certainly been behind his own share of hefty contracts (i.e. Ian Desmond, Wade Davis) in his time running Colorado’s front office.
An Arenado extension certainly projects as the largest contract in franchise history given the third baseman’s durability, youth (he turns 27 in April) and outstanding play both offensively and defensively. Given the huge money that would be involved in locking Arenado up, one can’t blame the Rockies for wanting one more season of information before fully exploring a $200MM+ deal. The Rox also have Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu scheduled for free agency next winter, and re-signing either could be difficult if a huge future commitment has already been made to Arenado.
From Arenado’s own perspective, he has already achieved enough financial security that he may not feel much urgency to complete a long-term deal. He has already banked $5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility, $29.5MM via that two-year agreement, and he’ll be in line for a salary worth $20MM in his final arb-eligible season.