Colorado Rockies: This is the biggest question of the offseason
By Kevin Henry
While the Colorado Rockies may enter the offseason with plenty of questions about what is next and what their roster might look like in 2021, there is one primary question that seems to loom above everything else.
So what is that one question? For the Colorado Rockies, it centers around All-Star third baseman and general manager Jeff Bridich. More specifically, can Arenado and Bridich co-exist in a world where their relationship was icy even before a disappointing 2020 campaign?
Think back to a world that didn’t know what COVID-19 was and you’ll remember trouble brewing between Arenado and Bridich before the Rockies reported to spring training in Scottsdale. After it was made official that Bridich listened to trade offers for Arenado in the offseason, Arenado went public to say he felt disrespected. Many would say that any general manager is always willing to listen to offers about any player, but the damage had seemingly been done in Arenado’s eyes, especially after signing an eight-year, $260 million deal just before 2019 spring training kicked into high gear.
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But, as we all know, that contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2021 season. It’s also an opt-out clause that has become more and more interesting knowing not only that Arenado and Bridich never seemed to resolve their disagreements (at least publicly acknowledged) and that the financial landscape of baseball has changed dramatically in the wake of the pandemic without fan revenue. Will there be another team willing to take on Arenado’s contract in a trade or offer him enough money to make the opt-out worth it financially in an era where we don’t know what 2021 revenues will look like and owners bemoan what they lost in 2020?
Remember this quote from Arenado in this article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale from late last February?
"“Yeah, the money is a great bonus, we’re set for life and all of that, but you still have goals and want to reach the top. That’s what you’re playing for, to be a World Series champion.’’"
After another losing season in 2020 for the Rockies (that, yes, was not helped by a woeful year from Arenado at the plate after suffering a shoulder injury at the start of the condensed schedule), is the franchise any closer to achieving a World Series title (let alone a National League West title) now than they were when Arenado inked that deal?
The answer is no. You know it. I know it. Arenado knows it.
Arenado’s season-ending injury and the financial uncertainty (and other uncertainties) surrounding the 2021 campaign make an offseason trade seem highly unlikely. It gives Arenado and Bridich both time. For Arenado, that means time to see if the Rockies will make the necessary investments (knowing contracts are coming off the books and additional revenue from a new TV deal is in play) in building a championship-caliber team for 2021. For Bridich, it gives him the time to actually build that team based on what resources he is allotted in what will likely be a strange, pandemic-impacted offseason.
Winning fixes a lot of problems, and it can fix a relationship between Arenado and Bridich as well. It all starts in the offseason for the management team who needs to show the face of its franchise (and its fanbase) it is serious about winning before it’s too late.