Signing Nolan Arenado next winter in free agency is a reasonable plan for the Yankees. Making a trade for him this offseason would be a huge mistake.
It’s very possible part of the reason the Yankees elected to pass on Manny Machado this winter is because they’d prefer to sign Nolan Arenado next year. There are some flaws in that logic, but it’s at least a defensible position for Brian Cashman and company. In sharp contrast, panicking and trading for Arenado this offseason would be a giant mistake for the franchise.
Sources emanating from New York claim that Miguel Andujar would be the centerpiece of any deal with the Rockies. That makes perfect sense. If Colorado deals Arenado, they’d do well to get a young, talented third baseman to slot right into his place in the lineup. Andujar has his flaws, but he’s already shown the ability to be an exceptional hitter. His power statistics would only rise by playing half of his games in Coors Field.
For the record, the friendly confines of Colorado’s ballpark are also doing a lot to enhance Arenado’s value. His home/road splits should give the Yankees front office serious pause about giving up big time assets to acquire Arenado.
At home, Arenado slugs the ball around like an MVP candidate. His slash line of .347/.424/.681 is obviously excellent. There’s a good reason opposing pitchers work hard to pitch around Arenado when they’re confronting him in thin air.
It’s reasonable to expect his road numbers to be significantly worse, but the drop off is even more severe than you might think. His slash line drops to .248/.325/.447 when he plays anywhere other than Coors Field. To put it in a precise context, Arenado plays like an MVP at home and like a replacement level third baseman on the road. When you combine those numbers he still performs like an above average regular, but it’s fair to wonder how much leaving Coors Field might alter his offensive production.
In fairness, it should be noted that some of Arenado’s value comes from his defensive abilities. He’s a consistent gold glover, and while that isn’t always indicative of a player’s defensive value, in this case it’s pretty accurate. At the very least, Arenado is one of the top-5 defensive third baseman in the game. Obviously that puts him way about Andujar’s putrid defensive performance.
The other big reason the Yankees shouldn’t deal Andujar for Arenado this winter is because it would still allow the Rockies third baseman to leave in free agency after the conclusion of the 2019 campaign. The Yankees would presumably engage his representatives in serious contract talks before making this kind of move, but there’s always a chance Arenado could change his mind and bolt. That’s not a risk the Yankees should take.
If Cashman and the front office were dead set on upgrading their options at third base, they should have signed Machado this offseason and traded Andujar for help at another position. Now that it seems the Machado ship has sailed, the Yankees should commit to Andujar for one more year and see just how much he can improve. Arenado can be a consideration in free agency next winter, but dealing for him now would be a foolish transaction by a typically savvy front office.