Nolan Arenado could become a free agent after the season, but the St. Louis Cardinals third baseman said he will return to the team in 2022.
"I'm not opting out," Arenado told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday. "We can put that out there. I will not be opting out. I will be coming back. That was always the plan. I'm absolutely coming back. I feel like this year has been special in a lot of senses."
The 30-year-old has $179 million remaining on his contract over the next six years, but he has a pair of opt-out clauses after the 2021 and 2022 seasons, per Spotrac. It means Arenado will have another chance to become a free agent a year from now, but as of now, he plans to remain in St. Louis.
Arenado came to the Cardinals in February in a trade with the Colorado Rockies. The six-time All-Star had an outstanding individual resume with eight Gold Glove awards and four Silver Sluggers, but he only appeared in five playoff games in eight seasons.
He will add to that this season with St. Louis after the squad clinched a wild-card berth.
The team was left for dead earlier in September but entered Wednesday with a 17-game winning streak.
Arenado has played a big part in the team's success, hitting 34 home runs with 105 RBI so far in 2021. The player isn't without faults—his .256 average is well below his .288 career mark—but he has mostly lived up to the hype since arriving with the team.
"There are still some things that I would like to do better—and I want to do it here," Arenado said.
Though his $35 million salary next year could lead to some payroll challenges, the Cardinals will be happy to keep an elite player like this on the roster.