Years from now, what happened in the world of baseball on January 29, 2021, will be remembered as the Friday Night Heist. The Cardinals kept the Rockies aimlessly for their best player, made Colorado shell out over $ 50 million to cover their tracks, and left behind an undisclosed bundle of mid-level prospects for their troubles. Enjoy doing business.
Of course, the intricacies of Nolan Arenado’s business are far more complex than the Colorado stagecoach robberies of the Colorado tradition. Incidentally, the two teams still have to settle: Arenado’s no-trade clause, his opt-outs (at least one, probably two), deferred payments, a possible extension and specific St. Louis laborers headed to Denver. . The League and the Players’ Association must also get involved and sign the shakedown. The Commerce, first reported by Atleticoby Ken Rosenthal, it probably won’t go official for a few days, but the picture for this blockbuster is set, with Arenado leaving the only team he has ever known.
The deal is yet another frustrating example of a billionaire owner sacrificing competitive integrity on the altar of the gods of efficiency. It is the third time in the past 12 months that a team has traded their homegrown star in a Hall of Fame trajectory because it has callously and doubtfully concluded that the face of its franchise would be more valuable playing for another team.
Still, there are obvious differences between the Arenado trade in Colorado and the deals that sent Mookie Betts to Los Angeles and Francisco Lindor to Queens. The Red Sox could have easily afforded the 12-year, $ 365 million extension that Betts signed with the Dodgers – Boston just didn’t want to pay that much. Cleveland also didn’t want to pay Lindor what he would be worth on the open market, but at least the players he had in exchange for him could become strong contributors to his next winning team.
The Rockies, on the other hand, paid Arenado a contract worthy of baseball’s best third baseman, when they signed him for an eight-year extension, $ 260 before the 2019 season, which briefly held the record for value. highest annual average for a position player. . The problem was that they assured him that they would commit to fielding a winning team around him, which requires spending more money, and then proceeded to cut costs and sign a major league free agent, rescuer José Mujica. , in the next two offseason. If the Rockies were starting one of those tanks and rebuilds, well, Arenado didn’t want to be a part of it.
“I want to win,” he said Sports IllustratedIt’s Stephanie Apstein last February. “If we win here, that’s why I signed up, right? To win here. But if we don’t want to win, I prefer to play for a winner. I don’t care where it is. I prefer to win a World Series rather than collect my number ”.
In St. Louis, Arenado will win. The only team awake in a hibernating division, the Cardinals have added the impact bat they desperately need for the past five years. And they did it without detracting from their three greatest strengths: throwing, defense and a constant pipeline of young talent. None of the prospects named as probable pieces in the Colorado return package it ranks among the best players in the St. Louis system. So unless the final version of the chord is drastically different from what is now reported, the Cardinals will keep their No. 1, third baseman Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker, their first-round pick in the 2020 draft which is also a third baseman. If Arenado were to exercise his opt-out clause after this season, or his further opt-out that could be included in his reworked deal with St. Louis after 2022, the Cardinals would have covered the hot corner.
However, the Cardinals are planning Arenado’s stay for the remaining six years of his contract. That’s why they forced the Rockies to pay them about $ 50 million to help cover the $ 199 million they owed them. Since 2015, Arenado has led all third base players in the games played (835), hit (952), home runs (207) and OPS (.926). His 33.0 WAR in these six seasons is in third place in the majors, behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, and first among third base.
Arenado is also one of the best defensive third bases ever. It has won the Gold Glove award in each of its eight seasons. He leads all active third base players in field racing and is already 11th all-time in this position.
There are concerns about how Arenado will perform without playing his home games at Coors Field. In altitude-assisted hitters’ paradise, it has a .985 OPS life, well above its .793 OPS on the road. However, the more we learn about the disadvantages of playing mid-season at Coors Field, the easier it is to imagine Arenado thriving with his new team. Watch DJ LeMahieu’s production since leaving Colorado. He became one of the best offensive players in the game with the Yankees.
Perhaps former thug Matt Holliday is a better example of what to expect from Arenado with the Cardinals. As now with Arenado, the Cardinals traded for Holliday knowing he could let loose after the season. Holliday re-signed with St. Louis and the following year, hit .312 with 28 home runs and 103 RBI. He was 30, the same age Arenado will be this season. In over seven years with St. Louis, Holliday recorded a 138 OPS + and led the Cardinals to two NL pennants (2011, ’13) and a World Series title (’11).
Now, with Arenado and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt anchoring the St. Louis infield and striking in the middle of the order, the Cardinals have capitalized on what was already a winning NL Central. Their launch staff is deep, with ace Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright leading the rotation and a daunting bullpen to follow, and franchise icon Yadier Molina is should re-sign soon. Outfielder Dylan Carlson, their best young player since the late Oscar Taveras, is entering his first full season in the majors. Shortstop Paul DeJong is one of the most underrated players in the game.
Arenado’s problem with the Rockies was that they were unable to contend, and the organization didn’t have a viable plan to do so. It’s a shame to see a major league organization as clueless as Colorado.
But somehow, under the insanely misleading direction of owner Dick Monfort and GM Jeff Bridich, the Rockies have given Arenado and most of us in the baseball world what we’ve always wanted: to see one of the best third-base players. in the playoffs for years to come.
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