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Report: Nolan Arenado Traded to Cardinals from Rockies; STL Gets $50M in Deal

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2021

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

In a blockbuster trade, the Colorado Rockies dealt third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, who first reported talks between the two teams were escalating Thursday.  

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

BREAKING: Cardinals have agreed to acquire Nolan Arenado from Rockies, sources tell @TheAthletic. Deal pending approval from both MLB and players’ union; Rockies sending Cardinals significant cash, believed to be in $50M range, and Arenado will be deferring money.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Names possibly going to Rockies include LHP Austin Gomber, 1B Luken Baker, OF Jhon Torres. Return also might include RHP Jake Woodford or RHP Angel Rondón. Exact package not confirmed. https://t.co/QJaMyyxLwP

MLB Network's Jon Heyman added that Arenado "will receive an extra guaranteed year on his contract at about $15M as part of the negotiated arrangement."

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported in December 2019 that multiple teams were attempting to engage the Rockies in trade talks for Arenado, but the "conversations went nowhere."

Following the winter meetings last year, Rosenthal reported that Colorado was listening to offers for its star player. 

It seemed like odd timing for the Rockies to even consider dealing Arenado, let alone actually make the move. He signed an eight-year contract extension worth $260 million two years ago, potentially tying him to the organization through 2026. 

Some of the details of that contract may have forced the Rockies' hand. Arenado had an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, which would let him become a free agent at the age of 30, when he could presumably secure another long-term deal. 

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

If deal between Rockies and Cardinals is finalized, Arenado will keep his opt out after 2021, get an additional opt out after 2022 and retain his full no-trade clause, sources tell @TheAthletic.

At the time Arenado signed the extension, Colorado was coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and nearly ended the Los Angeles Dodgers' reign atop the National League West in 2018 before losing a one-game tiebreaker. 

The 2019 season was a significant step back for the Rockies. They finished fourth in the NL West with a 71-91 record, their worst in a season since 2015. Arenado did everything he could to keep the team competitive with a .315/.379/.583 slash line, 41 homers and 118 RBI. 

Things didn't get better in Colorado last year, as it limped to a 26-34 finish in the abbreviated 60-game season.

Arenado told The Athletic's Nick Groke that 2019 felt "like a rebuild" for the organization. Heading into his eighth year, playing through another rebuilding effort after the 96-loss 2014 and 94-loss 2015 seasons could have given him pause about being in Colorado long-term. 

The Rockies' prospect pipeline is in a precarious position right now. FanGraphs' farm system value rankings has it as the fourth-worst in MLB, with only one player—position player or pitcher—projected to be above-average or better (shortstop Brendan Rodgers). 

By moving Arenado now, the Rockies were able to save a significant amount of money and add more prospects in the process.

The Cardinals were able to extend their championship window by adding Arenado. He has been the best all-around third baseman in MLB since 2016 when his offensive numbers caught up to his elite defensive skills. 

Over the past five seasons, Arenado ranks third among NL players with 23.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement. He's won eight straight Gold Glove awards and has finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting five times.            

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