Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado salary swap with the St. Louis Cardinals?
By Kevin Henry
Salary notes: $18.5 million for 2021 and a no-trade clause. There is an option for 2022 that would generate $2 million in a buyout if it isn’t picked up. This is the final year of Carpenter’s two-year, $39 million deal.
Carpenter posted a 92 OPS+ in 2019 and a 77 OPS+ last season. He would immediately slot in at third base if he was part of the deal and accepted the trade to Denver. However, he hasn’t been an All-Star since the 2016 campaign and will be 35 when the 2021 season begins. On the surface, the Rockies would eat the salary in the same way they did when shortstop Jose Reyes came to Colorado in the Troy Tulowitzki deal, knowing they were getting a lower-quality replacement but needing to do it to make the money work for both teams.
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Salary notes: $16.5 million for 2021 and a no-trade clause. Fowler becomes a free agent after the 2021 season, completing a five-year, $82.5 million deal.
Rockies fans, of course, are very familiar with Fowler, a 14th-round draft pick of the club back in 2004. After some very public comments about Fowler’s daily commitment from then-Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, Fowler was traded to the Houston Astros in the offseason following the 2013 campaign in a much-discussed deal.
Of course, a lot of time has passed since that deal, and Fowler has seen time with the Chicago Cubs and Cardinals since. After signing a meaty contract with the Cardinals late in 2016, Fowler has underwhelmed, hitting just .233/.334/.408 with a 98 OPS+ in exactly 1,500 plate appearances as a Cardinal.
St. Louis would be more than happy to shed Fowler’s deal and his career could come full circle if he came back to Denver, giving the Rockies another veteran outfielder. While there might be some sentimental reasoning for Fowler’s return, his offensive and defensive contributions at age 35 would likely be far less than they were in his first go-round in Denver.