The Cardinals and Rockies have recently engaged in “preliminary trade negotiations” regarding Nolan Arenado, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi characterizes the Redbirds as “a viable suitor” for the five-time All-Star.
Of course, a deal coming to fruition is far from certain. Indeed, just yesterday, we heard that a St. Louis acquisition of Arenado was unlikely. That the sides are talking could give Cardinals’ fans cause for hope, but it’s hardly proof anything will get across the finish line. Teams surely engage in preliminary negotiations on any number of scenarios without ultimately completing the deal all the time.
Just how far these talks between Colorado and St. Louis have yet progressed isn’t clear. The Cardinals are intent on adding an impact position player this offseason, Morosi notes, although a re-signing of free agent Marcell Ozuna could fill that void. Morosi adds that Dakota Hudson could be a central figure in Arenado talks, although that seems more speculative than a definitive report that Colorado is intent on acquiring the 25-year-old sinkerballer.
As Morosi notes, an Arenado deal would be difficult to pull off, whether for the Cardinals or another suitor. Arenado is due $234MM over the next seven years on the extension he signed last February. That’d be a huge commitment for any acquiring team, but it’s hardly unreasonable for a player of his caliber. Anthony Rendon signed for $245MM over the same term this offseason. While Rendon has been marginally better than Arenado over the past few seasons, the Rockies’ star is a year younger.
More difficult to navigate are Arenado’s full no-trade clause and post-2021 opt-out clause. Arenado has in the past been vocal about his desire to compete, and Morosi notes he admires the Cardinals’ franchise history and has a strong rapport with Paul Goldschmidt. It thus seems feasible he’d be willing to waive the no-trade clause, particularly if the Rockies pivot to a large-scale rebuild. It should be noted, however, Arenado himself has not addressed the no-trade clause publicly.
The opt-out clause poses a greater challenge. Suitors figure to be understandably reluctant to part with the kind of young talent Colorado would surely require for their franchise player if they fear he’ll depart after 2021. (Of course, if Arenado were to not exercise his opt-out in two years’ time, it’s probably an indicator he couldn’t beat the hefty $164MM he’s currently due from 2022-26 on the open market). Morosi reports that St. Louis could explore attempting to convince Arenado to waive his opt-out clause (particularly by guaranteeing him more money), but there’s hardly any indication he’d be willing to do so.
Arenado will surely remain one of the game’s most notable trade candidates unless a deal ultimately comes to fruition. Whether St. Louis or any other team can overcome the numerous hurdles to a deal is one of the offseason’s most fascinating storylines.