In five-time All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Rockies unquestionably have one of the majors’ blue-chip players. At the same time, though, Arenado’s on-field value could place him among the game’s most appealing trade chips. The Rockies did make a franchise-record commitment last offseason to Arenado, adding a guaranteed seven years and $234MM to the $26MM he was already set to rake in during the 2019 campaign. Based on that, Arenado should be a member of the Rockies for the long haul, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll go in another direction this winter.
As of a few weeks ago, the Rockies and general manager Jeff Bridich were reportedly open to listening to offers for the 28-year-old. The Braves and Rangers, teams that still haven’t filled their third base needs as the new year approaches, showed interest thereafter in Arenado. Meanwhile, the Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers and maybe the Twins come to mind as teams that could at least kick the tires of Arenado if they lose out on the top free-agent third baseman left on the board, Josh Donaldson, or fail to swing a trade for someone like Kris Bryant of the Cubs. (Bryant looks like a more realistic trade candidate than Arenado right now, though the service-time grievance the former filed against the Cubs – does he have one year of control left or two? – has helped prevent his market from heating up thus far.)
On the other hand, considering Arenado has established himself as one of the sport’s most valuable players, Colorado would likely be content to keep him. Indeed, Buster Olney of ESPN has recently heard that the Rockies aren’t aggressively shopping Arenado. While the team was woeful last season during a 71-win showing, Arenado did help the Rox to playoff berths in each of the previous two years. So, Bridich could regard the Rockies’ failed 2019 as a fluke and look for a bounce-back effort from his Arenado-led roster next season.
Even if the Rockies are willing to part with Arenado, though, an offer they deem palatable may not be easy to find. After all, Arenado’s contract still contains a boatload of money – the deal he signed before last season hasn’t even kicked in yet, though it looks reasonable enough in light of fellow third baseman Anthony Rendon’s seven-year, $245MM pact with the Angels. Beyond that, Arenado has a full no-trade clause that gives him the right to veto any move. He also has the ability to opt out after the 2021 campaign, and if interested teams are worried he’ll take advantage of that, it’ll tamp down his trade value.
If not for Arenado’s opt-out clause, the Rockies would be in the catbird seat here. There wouldn’t be any real pressure to part with the face of their franchise and one of the greatest players they’ve ever had. But if the Rockies don’t expect to contend prior to Arenado’s opt-out chance, maybe they ought to market one of baseball’s leading superstars now.
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