It’s hard to imagine a way in which the Colorado Rockies could have bungled their relationship with their franchise player any more than the way they have this off-season.
Less than one calendar year after they agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with Nolan Arenado, GM Jeff Bridich announced he was open to trading the five-time All Star this off-season, and reportedly had conversations with a number of teams. It’s unclear if the Phillies were one of those teams, but there have been no published reports to indicate any serious discussions had taken place.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to understand why Colorado wanted to move from Arenado in the first place. Certainly the Rockies had a down year in 2019, 71-91 and 35 games out of first place in the NL West, but it was just one season after going 91-72 and winning one of the NL’s two wild cards. They had a good, young pitching staff in ‘18 and a lineup of hitters that should have been productive. But a disaster of a season by Kyle Freeland and a lot of underachieving by the offense led to their lost season, which has apparently inspired Bridich and the Rockies to cut bait.
On Sunday, the situation in Colorado jumped up a notch, with Bridich announcing they are “nixing” all trade discussions and that they were ready to move on with Arenado at the hot corner in 2020. But Arenado apparently isn’t thrilled with how this all went down.
Arenado used the word “disrespect” twice to talk about how the Rockies have treated him this off-season, and a divorce now feels inevitable, much like it did when Scott Rolen and the Phils were going to war in the late 1990s/early 2000s and when the situation between Giancarlo Stanton and Derek Jeter became untenable. In both cases, those players were traded for far less than they were worth because it had become clear both players needed to be moved.
Things may have reached that stage with Arenado and the Rockies, indicative of some outstanding GM work by Bridich, but there is a major difference between his case and the Rolen/Stanton cases. Those two players did not have seven years and $234 million left on their deals. Arenado does, a mammoth contract that only a handful of teams would be willing to stomach. But there is also a poison pill, a player opt-out after the 2021 season that would make Arenado a free agent. He also has a full no-trade clause, so he can pick and choose wherever he wants to go, much like Stanton made sure he went to the destination of his choice, the Yankees.
Obviously, every team would like to have Arenado manning the hot corner for them, but those mitigating factors make viable trade scenarios tough to comprehend. In the Phils’ case, it’s likely they would want some guarantee that Arenado would be around for more than just the next two years if they were to dip into a farm system thin on top-level talent. But Arenado holds all the cards in this scenario, and if he makes things difficult for Bridich, it may not cost quite as much to acquire him as it otherwise might.
I proposed this trade idea on Twitter to gauge fan reaction and it seems clear most would not be willing to give up the farm to land Arenado.
Would you give up Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard, Scott Kingery and Connor Seabold for Nolan Arenado, with no guarantee he refuses his opt-out in two years?— John Stolnis (@JohnStolnis) January 21, 2020
Without knowing how long you would have him for, knowing that he’s going to put you over the luxury tax, and knowing you don’t have many impact minor leaguers to offer, it’s hard to see a scenario in which the Phillies can land the 28-year-old. Giving up Alec Bohm and Scott Kingery, the team’s two best young position players, as well as their only pitching prospect that has the chance to be a No. 2 starter, is a bridge too far.
While it’s likely the Phils wouldn’t need to give up that much, that also means other teams wouldn’t have to give up that much, which means more teams in the mix. The nightmare scenario is the Braves, who have a vastly superior farm system, dealing for Arenado, although it’s hard to see how they fit his salary under the payroll limits.
At the end of the day, Arenado probably gets dealt close to the trade deadline for less than what he’s worth, most likely to a team like the Cardinals. The Cardinals always seem to land players like this. GM Matt Klentak should keep his ears open and get creative to deal for Arenado, but the likelihood of pulling it off is probably about the same as their likelihood of dealing for Stanton was a few years ago — slim-to-none.
You know what? It’s probably for the best. Arenado’s career numbers at Citizens Bank Park are pedestrian anyway (.195/.238/.338 in 17 games with just three homers).
Yeah, he’s a bum.
On Episode 352 of Hittin’ Season, hosts John Stolnis, Liz Roscher and Justin Klugh talked more about the Arenado situation, as well as more thoughts on the Astros cheating scandal and the J.T. Realmuto contract situation. Tune in below!