Just one year from reaching free agency, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado may go down among the most coveted players ever to hit the open market – if he does, that is. The chances of Arenado shopping himself around the majors next winter seemingly took a hit Saturday when Rockies owner Dick Monfort expressed optimism about the club’s chances of locking the four-time All-Star up for the long haul.
“I think we’ve gotten it to the point where we’re to the finals. We’re to the crescendo,” Monfort told Thomas Harding of MLB.com in regards to extension talks with Arenado. Monfort added that he’s “comfortable that we can get a number that we can get to” for Arenado, who “wants this to happen as much as we do.”
The Rockies and Arenado have already held at least one meeting this week, during which they hammered out a record-setting, arbitration-avoiding agreement worth $26MM. It seems they also used that summit to discuss a long-term arrangement for Arenado. Regardless, the Rockies will no doubt need to hand Arenado a team-record pact – one that obliterates the $141.5MM guarantee they gave former first baseman Todd Helton in 2001 – to prevent their current franchise player from taking a stab at free agency.
Although they’ve historically been middle of the pack or lower when it comes to spending, the Rockies appear ready to pony up for Arenado. General manager Jeff Bridich said in December that the Rockies could afford a $200MM-plus contract for Arenado, and Monfort noted Saturday that revenue from their TV contract – which runs through 2020 – will jump from $20MM per annum to $40MM. That 100 percent increase, not to mention a new TV deal which the Rockies will begin negotiating in the summer, should only help the team’s chances of retaining Arenado.
For his part, Arenado may simply prefer the comfort of Colorado, where he has posted far better offensive numbers than on the road, to dealing with the free-agent process. The market has become increasingly unkind to players over the past couple offseasons, evidenced in part by the fact that in-their-prime superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have been unemployed for three months. Harper and Machado are eventually going to rake in huge contracts, but with fewer suitors than expected, the duo may not do as well as predicted when the winter began. And while Harper hasn’t even played his age-26 season yet and Machado won’t turn 27 until July, Arenado will be on the verge of his age-29 campaign if and when he becomes a free agent.
Despite the age difference between him and the Harper-Machado tandem, Arenado’s certainly paying close attention to their free-agent forays. The more money Harper and Machado receive, the better it will be for Arenado, whose superb all-around track record gives him a strong chance of joining the $200MM club in the next 12 months. The main question is whether he’ll get that money from Colorado or another franchise. How do you expect it to play out?
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