Cubs "Loom as a Possible Suitor" for a Nolan Arenado Trade - That's the Rumor, and I Have Thoughts

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Cubs “Loom as a Possible Suitor” for a Nolan Arenado Trade – That’s the Rumor, and I Have Thoughts

Chicago Cubs

There was a time back in September, when the first chatter appeared about Nolan Arenado possibly being traded, when I let myself muse on the possibility that the Cubs could be a pursuer.

Bear in mind, this was long before we had a sense of the Cubs’ self-imposed spending limitations, and it was also before I dug in more deeply on just how untradable Arenado is right now (more on that in a moment). But the thinking was something like this: the Cubs had reportedly been interested in Arenado going back to when it was approaching free agency, and if they were looking at hitching their wagon to a third baseman on a $200+ million deal, then it’s a decision between Arenado, Anthony Rendon, and Kris Bryant. And if you didn’t expect to be able to extend Bryant, but could get a haul in trading Bryant while simultaneously taking on Arenado (and his contract) for a lesser price tag, then you just improved your team considerably, and also locked up a third base star for a long time.

It was complicated, unlikely, and more thinking-out-loud-fandom than an actual plausible path. When a superstar player is on the trade market, you allow yourself to do some wild speculating. It’s just part of being a baseball fan who likes trades.

I mostly forgot all about that line of thinking. Again, that was back in September, and a whole lot has changed since then.

But then Jon Morosi wrote this today: “One source said that as many as a half-dozen teams are in contact with the Rockies regarding the possibility of an Arenado trade. The Braves, Rangers and Nationals are believed to be among the group. The Cubs also loom as a possible suitor, especially if they trade former National League MVP Kris Bryant in a move to obtain young pitching.”

The Cubs. A possible trade suitor. For Nolan Arenado. Right now. Mmkay.

Again, there was a time when I could have seen it. It’s the kind of creative, shake-up-the-roster, get-a-very-different-kind-of-bat deal that the Cubs could make and wind up better in 2020 *AND* better for post-2021. But now? Knowing that the Cubs are probably dead set on staying under the luxury tax in 2020? Knowing that the Rockies would have to get a monster return to justify trading Arenado? Knowing that Arenado has an opt-out in two years, is guaranteed $234 million through 2026 if he doesn’t opt out, and has full no-trade rights?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Hey, if you want to get excited and dream on the possibilities like I did a few months ago, I won’t stop you. But if you’re asking me, I do not see the Cubs seriously and successfully pursuing an Arenado trade this offseason even if they first moved Kris Bryant. Keep in mind, while Bryant is expected to get around $18 million in arbitration, Arenado’s deal comes with a $32.5 million AAV for luxury tax purposes. So – stripping away all other considerations for the moment – the Cubs would have to cut *another* $14+ million in salary *after* trading Bryant just to accommodate Arenado. Sure, it could be done – perhaps by sending a contract back to the Rockies – but it’s a seriously complicating factor for a club that is already right at the luxury tax threshold.

As always, you have to regard these rumors suspiciously, as they relate to so much going on in the market right now. Maybe the Cubs want other clubs to think they *aren’t* desperate to unload salary. Maybe the Rockies are just trying to get some extra leverage by making it seem like the Cubs are involved. Maybe a team that really wants Josh Donaldson to pull the trigger is trying to apply extra pressure. Or maybe a team is trying to mess with the Cubs’ market for Kris Bryant.

We can’t know for sure the answers, so all we can do is evaluate the rumor on its face. Here, while I could certainly understand the Rockies maybe wanting to undo the Arenado contract or wanting to get a monster haul to kickstart a rebuild, it’s just impossible for me to see them getting a monster haul for Arenado on his deal. And if they can’t get a monster haul, then how on earth could they actually trade their face-of-the-franchise superstar just one year into his mega-extension?

I’m not just talking about the Cubs here. I don’t see Arenado traded at all this offseason. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’ll wind up on Freezing Cold Takes with this one, but Arenado will not be traded this offseason. So, whatever teams/players/agents are pushing these rumors out there are clearly working overtime.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.