The stove just keeps getting hotter. The long and tension filled relationship between the Colorado Rockies and star third baseman Nolan Arenado came to an end Friday night as Colorado dealt the five time all star to the St. Louis Cardinals, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Cardinals are also receiving $50 million in cash considerations. The return to Colorado for the eight time gold glover is reported as being centered around LHP Austin Gomber, 1B Luken Baker (Cardinals #23 prospect) and outfielder Jhon Torres (team’s #9 prospect), with other prospects such as Jake Woodford and Angel Rondon (Cardinals #13 prospect) also possibly involved. The deal is not yet official and the exact aspects of the trade are not fully known. With a high amount of cash considerations changing hands, the players union must approve of the deal as well.
For Arenado, he will likely be waiving his no trade clause and will get a new start in the rich baseball town of St. Louis, as he still holds a number of prime years at age 29. Arenado will be keeping his opt out clause after the 2021 season, and deferring part of his $260 million deal towards the end of his 8 year term. While the superstar third baseman struggled with the stick in the shortened 2020 season, he did miss 12/60 games due to injury. In previous seasons though, Arenado was swinging it among the best in baseball as from 2015-2019, he racked up no less than 37 home runs a year, knocking in at least 110 RBI’s each season and was a consitent high .200’s, low .300’s hitter. With the glove, Nolan is a human vacuum cleaner in the hot corner, as seen by his eight gold gloves, one for each of his full years in the league. While he has racked up the individual awards for years now, this trade is Arenado’s chance to contribute to a perennial playoff contender with a team that knows a thing or two about winning in the postseason.
For the Cardinals, this trade is a home run. They have had the Colorado superstar on their radar for a while now and they finally pull it off today. Acquiring one of the best pure hitters in baseball for basically a 6 year, $151 million deal is an absolute heist. This going along with an elite glove significantly improves this St. Louis team. Pairing Arenado across the diamond from another elite corner infielder in Paul Goldschmidt now gives the club a devastating 1-2 punch of two of the best hitters in baseball to anchor the lineup. Arenado will provide tremendous help to a Cardinals order that desperately needed more pop and getting a guy who has won four silver sluggers while cranking out triple digit RBI seasons five times certainly will help matters. His impact on defense cannot be forgotten as he has been regarded as a top 2 defensive third baseman in the league the last few years, as his four platinum glove awards suggest. This trade easily shoots the Cardinals ahead of the rest of the NL Central as the preseason favorites to win the division crown for the second time in three years. Receiving upwards of $50 million will help the Cardinals add some more help to the team in the future and holding onto all three of their top 100 prospects ensures a very bright future in St. Louis, now with a new superstar third baseman.
For the Rockies, this deal screams desperation. Colorado has trudged along the line of mediocre in the last two seasons ever since back to back playoff berths in 2017 and 2018 but with this trade, it looks like they are heading for a hard rebuild in Colorado. The tension between the organization and Arenado had been rather thick since the superstar third baseman inked a 8 year, $260 million extension before the 2019 season. In that deal though, Arenado was given the right to opt out of his contract after the upcoming 2021 season and with Colorado failing on the field, they shipped him out to get something back rather than losing him in the open market. However, the Rockies heavily undersold him. While Gomber has shown potential in the majors already, Colorado should have targeted quality over quantity in terms of prospects as while Baker and Torres look promising, St. Louis has high hopes for third baseman Nolan Gorman (team’s #2 prospect, #43 in MLB) who could’ve been acquired as Arenado’s future replacement. It will be interesting to see where the Rockies go from here as with a rather weak farm system, one has to wonder if their other star on the left side of the infield in shortstop Trevor Story could be heading out the door next.
Overall, this trade was a loss for Colorado in terms of what they got for what was given up. But for St. Louis, this is a huge move in a deal that they made out like bandits in. This deal signifies the Cardinals willingness to take advantage of a division that has been very quiet this offseason as they put themselves in a position to jump ahead of the NL Central pack and keep themselves in contention for October baseball in 2021 and beyond.