Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado said Tuesday he's unsure what the future holds with a decision looming about whether to opt out of the rest of his eight-year, $260 million contract he signed in 2019 after the 2021 MLB season.
"I don't know what's gonna happen," Arenado told ESPN's Karl Ravech. "I think this year will be interesting. I'm hopeful that wherever—I wanna play for a winner. If that's in Colorado, that's great. And, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about: I just wanna win."
Arenado has been a foundational piece for the Rockies since he made his debut in 2013. He ranks fourth among all third basemen in WAR (32.2) over the past eight years, per FanGraphs.
The 29-year-old California native is also one of the league's best defenders having just won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove Award.
Colorado hasn't been able to build a consistent winner around him, though. It's reached the playoffs just twice during his career and hasn't advanced beyond the Division Series.
The Rockies posted a 26-34 record during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign. Their minus-78 run differential was the second-worst mark in the National League ahead of only the Pittsburgh Pirates (-79).
Barring a couple of blockbuster offseason moves, they'll likely enter next season well behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in the projected NL West standings. That still leaves a path to the postseason, but it looks like a narrow one on paper.
The other factor is the uncertain economics of the eventual post-COVID-19 world in MLB. This winter may provide some hints about whether free agents are taking a major hit in the size of contracts they receive, which Arenado will have to consider with five years and $164 million left on his deal after 2021.
That said, if the five-time All-Star's main focus is winning, Colorado will be a tough sell.
The reigning champion Dodgers aren't going anywhere in the immediate future and the Padres are a team on the rise after their impressive breakout in 2020. There would be a lot of clubs that would love the third baseman's all-around ability that could provide him with a better chance to chase a title.
At minimum, Arenado's comments put additional pressure on the Rockies' front office to make some moves to alter the team's short-term outlook.