Nolan Arenado trade talks to Cardinals heating up again
The trade rumors regarding Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado are percolating again.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported late Thursday night that the St. Louis Cardinals are in discussions with Colorado about a possible trade. No deal appears close, Rosenthal reported, and the other players who might be involved are not known.
A major league source told The Denver Post Thursday night that a deal is “not nearly close,” adding that the Atlanta Braves also might be interested in Arenado.
The third baseman, a five-time all-star who’s won eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards, four Platinum Glove Awards and four Silver Sluggers, has a no-trade clause in his contract. However, the Cardinals’ rich history and commitment to winning might be enough to entice Arenado to waive the no-trade clause.
Prior to the 2019 season — after the Rockies had qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in their history — Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million deal. The contract allows Arenado to opt out after the 2021 season.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, dramatically changed baseball’s financial landscape and could alter Arenado’s decision to opt out. He’s still owed $199 million over the last six years of his contract, money he likely wouldn’t be able to make on the open market now. Plus, his huge contract would be difficult for a team to absorb. For a deal to work, with the Cardinals or any other club, Colorado would very likely have to take on the contract of at least one high-priced veteran, in addition to receiving prospects.
It’s no secret that Arenado has a rocky relationship with Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich.
Frustrated by the Rockies’ 71-win season in 2019, Arenado met with Bridich shortly after the season ended and said he believed the team needed to make aggressive moves in the offseason in order to improve. Although Arenado has declined to talk publicly about the specific details of his deteriorating relationship with Bridich, multiple sources told The Post that Arenado feels like “promises were broken.”
The feud between Arenado and Bridich became public in January 2020 when Bridich told The Denver Post he was putting the brakes on any trade talk involving Arenado. Teams that had shown interest in a possible trade included the Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers.
“With the season coming up and spring training on the horizon, we are going to start focusing on that,” Bridich told The Post.
Shortly after the story broke, Arenado responded, saying he felt “disrespected” by Bridich.
“I really don’t care what’s being said. I just know that I feel disrespected over there,” he said, adding, “I’m not upset at the trade rumors. There’s more to this than that.”
The “more to this” comment refers to the way he views he has been treated by Bridich. Multiple sources said Arenado was hurt and offended when Bridich questioned Arenado’s leadership.
Arenado has long maintained that he wants to play for a team that will consistently compete for a playoff berth and a chance to win the World Series. During Arenado’s eight years in Colorado, the Rockies had just two winnings seasons — in 2017-18 — but never advancing beyond the National League division series.
“The opportunity to play in October every year is what I want,” he told The Denver Post in January 2018. “I want a team that tries as hard as it can to make the playoffs every year.”
Arenado stressed that he does not want his career to play out as Todd Helton’s did. The iconic Helton played in Colorado for 17 seasons, became the beloved face of the franchise, had his number retired and might end up in the Hall of Fame. But Helton’s Rockies qualified for the playoff just twice, in 2007 and 2009.
“There is something to be said for being with an organization for your whole career, I definitely believe in that,” Arenado said. “I admired Todd and I admired (Yankees Hall of Famer) Derek Jeter; guys who stick with one team their whole career. So I have a lot of respect for what Todd did. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to be in Todd’s shoes where I only go to the playoffs twice in my career.”
Arenado, hampered by a bruised left shoulder, is coming off the worst season of his career. He hit just .253 with a .738 OPS, far below his career mark of .890. Usually one of the best clutch hitters in the game, Arenado’s average with runners in scoring position plummeted to .175, down from his career average of .323. He finished the season on the injured list but his shoulder has fully healed.