As surprising as that headline might look, there are two reasons it’s not all that surprising: (1) this is actually a rumor that goes back to September, and (2) of course they’re listening, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen.
Here’s the report from Jon Heyman:
Rockies are willing to listen to trade inquiries on superstar 3B Nolan Arenado (and anyone else); they’ve gotten many calls on him since trade deadline. Would shake up monster 3B market (Rendon, Donaldson, Bryant) but no one sees as likely yet. Has full no-trade so up to him.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2019
Back in September, Ken Rosenthal floated this idea, which struck me as a trial balloon from the Rockies to see if fans would possibly stomach trading the face of the franchise one year into his monster extension.
In the abstract, it makes sense to part with Arenado for value on a market that is THIRSTY for third base talent, especially when it looks like a rebuild is in order (again). But when you consider the specifics, it’s almost impossible to see it actually happening:
- Arenado has nearly $235 million remaining on the seven years of his deal with the Rockies, which is just about market rate. So you’re immediately talking about having to eat salary to make a trade if you want to get anything of significance in return.
- Arenado has a full no-trade clause, so he’s gotta be on board with a trade, which further shrinks the market.
- Arenado has an opt out after 2021, so a team trading for him is taking on the downside of the FULL contract, and ALSO the downside that he’s awesome for two years and then leaves.
- Arenado is the singular face of the Rockies – the history of the Rockies – so the only way to trade him is if you get an absolutely overwhelmingly monstrous return, which simply isn’t going to happen given the preceding three bullets.
So, all in all, do I see Arenado suddenly “on the market” as a trade option to compete with the market for Kris Bryant? No. He’s only barely “on the market” as an alternative to Anthony Rendon – very similarly-valued players who’ll come at similar price tags in salary. I just don’t see any talks about Rendon really going anywhere unless the Rockies are desperate to dump him and he’s desperate to get out.
In another life, perhaps, Arenado would’ve been a dream target for the Cubs (like Rendon) because of the type of hitter he is, while also providing elite defense at third base. It’s not about him being “better” than Kris Bryant, mind you, it’s just that he comes under long-term control and diversifies the lineup quite a bit. See here for the more extensive discussion on that, even though – like I said – nothing is actually happening here.
We’ll see what happens after Rendon and Josh Donaldson sign. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some rumors pop up after that about Arenado and some of the free agent losers, but I really don’t see how a trade could actually happen.