MLB Trade Rumors: Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant Talks Shut Down by Rockies in 2020

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 6, 2021

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) in the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs discussed a third baseman swap featuring Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant last offseason, but Colorado didn't make the move because of concerns about the financial commitment involved.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and The Athletic provided the report Saturday:

"The clubs spoke at length, but sources said the Rockies were unwilling to take on any financial commitment beyond Bryant's remaining two years of club control, which at the time figured to be worth about $40 million in arbitration.

"The Cubs initially broached the idea of including outfielder Jason Heyward, who was owed $86 million over four years, to further defray the obligation to Arenado, who was still owed $225 million over seven. But the talks failed to progress, amounting to a what-might-have-been for the Cubs, particularly with Arenado now joining their biggest rival."

The Rockies traded Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers in infielers Elehuris Montero and Mateo Gil and right-handed pitchers Tony Locey and Jake Sommers.

Rosenthal provided some MLB executive takes on the swap.

"Rival executives remain baffled by the deal, in which the Rockies sent Arenado and $51 million to the Cardinals for left-hander Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers, only one of whom, infielder Elehuris Montero, was in Keith Law's top 15 for St. Louis entering the 2020 season."

Receiving Bryant in return likely would have netted the Rockies a greater value for trading one of the game's best players, even if Arenado had a down year at the dish in 2020 with a career-low .253 batting average and a .738 OPS.

Bryant had his own struggles with just four home runs, 11 RBI, a .206 batting average and .644 OPS.

However, he's entering his age-29 season, and his first five MLB campaigns included three All-Star appearances, a World Series title and a National League MVP award, so he's capable of far better than what he showed during the truncated 2020 season.

The two third basemen could be seeing a lot more of each other in 2021 if Bryant stays in Chicago, with Arenado a member of the NL Central.

The Cardinals should be the clear division favorites heading into the year. The Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are the likely top two contenders to knock the Cards from that perch.