Ranking the Most Likely Landing Spots for Nolan Arenado Amid Trade Rumors

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2020

Ranking the Most Likely Landing Spots for Nolan Arenado Amid Trade Rumors

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado continues to churn through the trade-rumor mill. There's no guarantee the Rox will deal the five-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner before Opening Day on March 26, but it's a distinct possibility.

    That's especially true after Josh Donaldson, the top remaining free-agent third baseman, signed with the Minnesota Twins on Jan. 14.

    Let's rank the top five landing spots for Arenado, based on recent rumors and a dollop of informed speculation. Team need, farm system depth and payroll flexibility or lack thereof were all factored in.

    Maybe Arenado will begin the 2020 campaign at mile-high altitude. If he doesn't, here are the alternate uniforms he may don.

No. 5: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have a top-tier third baseman in Justin Turner. They're also seeking—with increasing desperation—to win their first World Series since 1988.

    MLB Network's Jon Paul Morosi recently noted the Dodgers weren't "the most likely destination" for Arenado, since the Rockies may be hesitant to trade their franchise player within the division.

    Add it up, and it seems more plausible Los Angeles will pursue Arenado via free agency after the 2021 season, assuming he opts out of his contract (which otherwise would run through 2026).

    But don't discount the possibility that L.A. will dip into its deep farm system this offseason to acquire one of the game's best players—who happens to be a SoCal nativeto make another title run.

No. 4: Washington Nationals

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    The Washington Nationals hoisted a Commissioner's Trophy in 2019. Then they lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels via free agency.

    That's a massive hole to plug in the infield. So far, the Nats have re-signed veterans Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera and inked Starlin Castro and Eric Thames. They've also got prospect Carter Kieboom waiting in the wings.

    Maybe they'll get away with replacing Rendon by committee. That appears to be the plan. Considering they failed to re-up Rendon, it might seem implausible they'd pay the considerable price in cash and prospects to acquire Arenado.

    Yet they'd excite the D.C. faithful by obtaining another superstar hot-corner specialist and enhance their chances of competing in the top-heavy National League East. Budding stars such as Victor Robles and Juan Soto should be off the table, but a package built around Kieboom might pique Colorado's interest.

No. 3: Texas Rangers

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    Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers swung one big deal this winter when they acquired ace right-hander Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians.

    But, as Sports Illustrated's Joshua Carney noted, "general manager Jon Daniels has made it his mission to add a key arm and a big bat to the 2020 Rangers' roster as they move into a new stadium."

    Texas signed veteran third baseman Todd Frazier to a one-year, $5 million pact. But Frazier could slide to first base to make room for Arenado, per Morosi.

    The retooling Rangers may not be willing to sell the farm for Arenado, but they're in the running.

No. 2: St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Morosi reported that the St. Louis Cardinals have engaged the Rockies on Arenado. He noted Arenado's full no-trade clause but added: "He is said to have deep respect for the Cardinals' winning tradition. Arenado's friendship with [Cardinals first baseman Paul] Goldschmidt is another key factor; the two won a gold medal together on Team USA at the 2017 World Baseball Classic."

    The Cards are defending a National League Central crown and have young pieces to dangle, including right-hander Dakota Hudson.

    They could also move veteran third baseman Matt Carpenter who, per Morosi, "the Rockies have admired ... for several years."

    St. Louis is in a similar position to Texas in the Arenado sweepstakes. But considering Arenado's reported admiration for the Redbirds, they may be the club for whom he'd be more willing to waive his no-trade clause.

No. 1: Atlanta Braves

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    Logan Riely/Getty Images

    As soon as Donaldson signed with the Twins, the Atlanta Braves became the leader in the clubhouse for Arenado.

    They're in a win-now window. They need to upgrade at third base, where Johan Camargo and his .663 2019 OPS tops the depth chart.

    They've also got a loaded farm system and could afford to part with a top prospect or two to bolster the big league roster.

    The Braves have inquired about Arenado, per Morosi, though he notes they're wary about the $35 million he's owed in 2020 and 2021 before a potential opt-out.

    That said, this is the moment for Atlanta to get bold after it won two consecutive division titles but failed to advance past the division series.

    Arenado could join shortstop Dansby Swanson, second baseman Ozzie Albies and first baseman Freddie Freeman to form one of the best infields in baseball. 

                       

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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