If you’ve been paying attention to anything going on in the Rockies organization so far this offseason, you know that Nolan Arenado is an Arizona Fall League superstar. He’s batting .384 for the Salt River Rafters, and he leads the league in doubles and RBI. His speed is nothing special (no stolen bases), but he’s only struck out 9 times in 86 at-bats. Many are saying that he could be ready to take the Rockies third base job as early as next season.
I personally was really hoping for an Ian Stewart comeback in 2012, and he was initially slated to play in the AFL. His wrist injury aggravated once again, however, and he’s not been able to play after all. The Rockies may still give him another chance depending on how arbitration goes, but his future is uncertain. David Wright and Kevin Youkilis have been mentioned as possible fill-ins at the hot corner. But Arenado could be major-league ready very soon, and it doesn’t seem wise to invest in an All-Star player while we wait for him. I’m also not a fan of finding a so-so stop-gap, like Ty Wigginton or Kevin Kouzmanoff, to hold Arenado’s place.
So where does that leave us? Back with Stewart, maybe. I’d love to see him have some success next year, and as much as I don’t want to lose him, if he does come back around he’ll increase his trade value, allowing the Rockies to use him to address other holes once Arenado has had the time he needs to fully develop. What’s certain is that Nolan Arenado is the future of third base in Denver, in the same way that Drew Pomeranz is the future of pitching and Charlie Blackmon is the future of the outfield. If all these guys turn out to be as special as they seem, very good things could happen in the next few years.