All-star third baseman Nolan Arenado wants out of Colorado, but the Rockies don’t seem willing to deal their franchise player
The Colorado Rockies and Nolan Arenado have two different visions of his future.
The Rockies, unable to find a trade partner willing to meet their demands for the five-time All-Star third baseman, want to keep him; Arenado, meanwhile, desperately wants out and a fresh start somewhere else.
It’s a situation that’s only becoming more bitter and acrimonious as Spring Training rapidly approaches. After Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told the Denver Post that the club has exhausted all trade possibilities and was preparing to go into the season with him as their third baseman, Arenado responded by saying the Rockies are showing him “disrespect.”
“There’s a lot of disrespect from people there that I don’t want to be a part of. You can quote that,” Arenado wrote in a text message to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding on Monday. “You ask what I thought of Jeff’s quotes and I say I don’t care what people say around there. There is a lot of disrespect.”
It was less than a year ago that the 28-year-old Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with the Rockies, but his recent comments reveal a player who is ready to move on from the only Major League home he’s ever known.
There are two sides to Arenado’s career in Denver. On the one hand, he’s been among the most productive batters in baseball the last five seasons. He’s the only third baseman in MLB history to post five straight 110-RBI seasons. He’s behind only Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews for most seasons (five) with at least 37 home runs among third baseman.
Since 2015, he ranks behind only Nelson Cruz with 199 home runs and leads all players with 621 RBI, 83 more than second-place Edwin Encarnacion. Only Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez have a higher OPS over that span.
The other side of his career is that his gaudy numbers are partially a by-product of playing half his games in the thin air of Coors Field. Since 2015, he’s batting .332 at home with a 1.037 OPS; on the road those numbers decline to .269 and .838, respectively. He’s hit 108 home runs in Denver and 91 on the road.
Arenado’s value though extends to an area of the game where Coors Field doesn’t factor into the equation, and that is in the field. He’s won the Gold Glove at third base after each of his seven seasons, already fourth all-time at the position behind Brooks Robinson, Schmidt, and Scott Rolen. He’s led all third baseman in outs above average each of the last two seasons.
His home-away splits show that Arenado and the Rockies are a match made for each other. The Rockies made back-to-back postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018 for the first time in franchise history. But in 2019, they fell back to 71 wins, 18 games out of a playoff spot, and Arenado began voicing his frustrations about the team reportedly entering a rebuilding phase.
So far teams like the St. Louis Cardinals have initiated negotiations with the Rockies over Arenado; the Cardinals reportedly offered a package that included starting pitcher Dakota Hudson and top prospect Matthew Liberatore. But those talks haven’t resulted in a deal, and a trade involving Arenado seems as unlikely now as it was at the beginning of the offseason. One thing potentially turning off other teams is that Arenado can opt-out of his contract after the 2021 season.
Arenado remains a Rockie for now, but if he has his way it won’t be for much longer. It’s a relationship that seemed so promising just 11 months ago when he signed that extension but is only going to get messier the longer his future remains in limbo.