Several teams would be interested in having Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado on their team but are the 2019 World Champion Washington Nationals one of those teams?
The Washington Nationals had a bit of a rough year after winning the World Series in 2019 as they and the Colorado Rockies had the same record of 26-34 in 2020. The Nationals, though, are a team that is known to spend, and they, unlike most teams after their loss of revenue in 2020, maybe coming into a bit of money.
The Nationals currently have a lot of money tied up in future investments and in their starting rotation in particular. In 2021 alone, they have nearly $94 million going to three starters: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. They could decide to take on more salary, though, for some position players.
They already have shortstop Trea Turner and outfielders Victor Robles and Juan Soto that will be first-time arbitration-eligible this offseason or soon. If they don’t think that they will be able to extend them and Turner in particular, Nolan Arenado could be a great backup plan.
The Nationals also have an opening at third base since they lost their third baseman off of that World Series squad in Anthony Rendon when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels last offseason. They also are lacking a bit offensively as only Turner, Soto, and Yan Gomes had an OPS+ above 100 even though their team OPS+ was 104 in 2020 (Turner and Soto’s OPS+ were 157 and 212).
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The Nationals don’t have any prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects but the ones they had recently are in the majors and don’t have much service time so, if they were traded to the Rockies, they would still have plenty of team control.
Currently, they have Carter Kieboom penciled in at third baseman but the former top prospect (#21 overall entering 2020 according to MLB.com) struggled in his rookie season in 2020, hitting .202 with a .556 OPS in 33 games.
As Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Radio.com recently suggested, the Rockies and Nationals could be a fit for a deal and Kieboom could be the centerpiece of what could come back to the Rockies. He has extensive playing time at shortstop so he could even replace Trevor Story there if the Rockies can’t resign him or decide to trade him as well.
Nick Groke and Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic also recently looked at if the two teams are a fit (subscription required) and in their trade proposal, they have Robles as the centerpiece returning to the Rockies along with a couple of prospects in a deal that, if offered, could be a deal that gets it done for both teams.
As Groke mentions, Robles wouldn’t replace Arenado’s offense and the Rockies need some offensive help even without losing Arenado. The Rockies need to develop their offensive players and/or trade or sign some more bats to return to playoff contention as players like David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Tony Wolters, Raimel Tapia, Brendan Rodgers, and Sam Hilliard that either maintained or regressed offensively in 2019 and/or 2020.
With Robles, though, he would give the Rockies the best defensive center fielder that they have had in a very long time and someone that could develop into a good offensive player. Overall, the Nationals could be one of a few teams that can afford Arenado in the long-term, need him, and give the Rockies some MLB talent to help them soon.