When Nolan Arenado signed his eight-year contract extension with the Colorado Rockies in spring training of 2019, it appeared he would spend the rest of his career in a Rockies uniform. He had stated all along he wanted to play for a consistent playoff contender and the Rockies were coming off back-to-back postseason appearances. “I think the future is much brighter in Colorado than it’s been in the past,” he said at the time.
Things can change quickly in baseball, however, and Arenado’s relationship with the Rockies soon soured. After two bad seasons, with a big league roster lacking depth and a minor league system that ranks as one of the weakest in the sport, as they try to compete in a division with the Dodgers and Padres, the Rockies’ immediate future looks a lot more depressing than bright. With Arenado agreeing to waive his no-trade clause, the Rockies traded their franchise icon to the St. Louis Cardinals in a blockbuster deal.
The Cardinals acquire a five-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner, a superstar in even the narrowest definition. From 2015 to 2019, Arenado hit .300/.362/.575 while averaging 157 games, 40 home runs and 124 RBIs. He finished no lower than eighth in the MVP voting and ranked third behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in WAR among position players.
As good as Arenado has been, it’s not necessarily a risk-free trade for the Cardinals.