The Colorado Rockies have agreed to trade the league’s best third baseman, Nolan Arenado. He will suit for a new team in 2021 after an apparent salary dump. The Rockies have sent Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals in a complex trade that is pending approval from MLB and the MLBPA. Ken Rosenthal broke the massive deal Friday night on Twitter.
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) January 30, 2021
The deal may not be official for a couple of days, and the return for the Rockies could contain an unconfirmed combination of prospects, including left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber, first basemen Luken Baker, outfielder Jhon Torres, and/or right-handed pitchers Jake Woodford and Angel Rondon. If finalized, the Rockies will send a cash total in the $50 million range to the Cardinals, and Arenado will defer money in his contract. Additionally, Arenado will keep his 2021 opt-out, gain another after 2022, and retain his full no-trade clause.
Rockies Trade Nolan Arenado
2020 wasn’t an ideal year, but the 29-year-old remained very good. He slashed .253/.303/.434 with eight home runs and just 20 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances. The low offensive output is largely a product of bad luck; Arenado‘s BABIP and wOBA dipped to .241 and .308, respectively. Both of those numbers are far below his career marks. A more complete season could have easily produced the results that fans are used to seeing from the Rockies star. However, the defense didn’t suffer much. Arenado led all third basemen in defensive runs saved with 15. His ultimate zone rating of 8.5 was also the best figure in baseball. Defensive stats are less clear than many offensive ones, but there was little doubt that he deserved his eighth consecutive Gold Glove and fourth Fielding Bible Award.
There is very little that Arenado has not accomplished in eight seasons with the Rockies. On top of the eight Gold Glove Awards, he has won four Silver Slugger Awards, been named to five All-Star teams, and received MVP votes five times. He’s led the league in home runs three times, RBI twice, and total bases twice. Some will say that is all a product of Coors Field, but many hitting stats adjust for park effect and still reflect a perfectly fine hitter.
What This Means for the Rockies
This trade hurts a lot in the short-term. Yes, Colorado has players coming back, but trading a franchise icon is rarely productive right away or popular. It will save the Rockies significant money for the next few years, but they have to try and make smarter decisions with that money. They shouldn’t spend it on volatile relief pitching or trying to shoehorn a player into a position they’ve never played, moves they have made in the past.