A small army of third basemen has been on the move this winter. Anthony Rendon got the biggest deal ever doled out by Arte Moreno and signed with the Angels. Josh Donaldson is weighing nine-figure offers from the Braves and Nationals. The Cubs have made it known they’re ready to deal Kris Bryant for the right return.
In the midst of all that, Nolan Arenado is available, less than a year after he and the Rockies agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract. The timing is very strange and the Rockies haven’t publicly explained why this conversation is happening now.
There would seem be two distinct possibilities:
1. Ownership is already concerned about Arenado’s $32.5 million average annual salary absorbing too much of the budget of a franchise that has never fielded a payroll of $150 million.
2. Arenado, who has made no secret of the fact that he wants to win, is pushing to go to a team that might have a better chance to do it. He has a full no-trade clause, so he completely controls his possible destination. Arenado can opt out of his deal after the 2021 season.
Regardless of the root cause, there couldn’t be a worse time for Colorado to try to deal Arenado, with the huge financial obligations tied to the contract and the clauses that give Arenado so much power to dictate where he lands. If the unknown factors compel the Rockies to make a trade, it probably will be close to a giveaway similar to what the Miami Marlins executed with then-reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins ate money and received little talent from the Yankees to get Stanton off their books. “Stanton is a great comp,” one highly regarded evaluator said the other day.