The Colorado Rockies made a head-scratching move official on Monday when they traded Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals while getting no high-ranking prospects in return plus they sent well more than $50 million to the Cardinals as well.
The trade seems even more perplexing after Ken Rosenthal’s column in The Athletic on Saturday when he noted that Arenado said that he thought that “it might not have been a great decision” to opt after the 2021 season, considering the current state of finances in baseball.
That’s contrary to what Rockies owner Dick Monfort said on Tuesday (in his press conference with the media, that included Rox Pile) for a few reasons. First off, when he said that the trade was made because having Arenado play with the team in 2021 and potentially opt out would net the Rockies the “lowest return,” that wasn’t the case. Secondly, Monfort also claimed that the Rockies were under the “assumption was that [Arenado] would opt out” at the end of 2021 when that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So either the Rockies didn’t want him on the team at all and the Cardinals knew it so they took advantage of the Rockies desperation and offered nothing in return or Arenado bluffed and the Rockies decided to fold, while Arenado had nothing on the proverbial poker table. Either way, doesn’t make the Rockies look good. And if the Rockies did keep Arenado for this season and he did opt out, then that wouldn’t (at least, directly) be on the Rockies. But they didn’t.
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Even more mind-boggling is that the Rockies had another trade offer on the table last offseason when Monfort claimed that Arenado told the Rockies front office that he “wanted to be traded.” That was to the Chicago Cubs.
Rosenthal says that the trade would have centered around Kris Bryant, who had two years of team control on his contract at the time. But the Rockies didn’t want to take on any of Arenado’s contract other than that of Bryant’s contract, which was about $40 million. The Cubs offered to include outfielder Jason Heyward and the $86 million left on his contract but the Rockies turned it down. So instead, the Rockies take on $50+ million to ship Arenado out when a year prior, they didn’t want to take on any money other than Bryant.
Bryant, like Arenado, also had an injury-plagued season in 2020 but at least the Rockies would have some MLB talent in Bryant and Heyward and possibly some other MLB players and/or prospects that were actually in the team’s top 10 prospects.
But, as Rosenthal says, the Rockies chose door number three and into a trap that they chose. And it’s not just because they chose the door but also, it’s because we likely wouldn’t have heard a word about this had the Rockies not put in the opt out clause after 2021 in the first place since Arenado and his agent didn’t ask for it.
So, once again, as we already knew, Arenado was traded because of a slew of organizational failures, organizational failures that have cost the Rockies dearly and will continue to do for years to come. But somehow, with more information that comes out, the Rockies end up looking worse and worse each time. And at this point, it is taking some great skill to keep digging themselves further into the hole, which looks ever more like it is a never-ending abyss.