In the wake of the Orioles trading Manny Machado to the Dodgers, the idea has surfaced in the national media that the Rockies should trade Nolan Arenado this month. Specifically in a piece from Stephen Tolbert at MLB Daily Dish and another one by R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports.
Before we even move on to whether or not trading Arenado this month is a good idea, we need to get one thing straight: The Rockies are not trading Nolan Arenado at the deadline. There is a better chance of aliens landing on Coors Field during a game this month and abducting Nolan Arenado than there is of the Rockies trading him this month. It’s not happening, for several reasons.
For reasons why the Rockies will not and should not trade Arenado, the easiest place to start is the standings. The Rockies are currently 51-45, just two games out in both the NL West and the NL Wild Card race. a far cry from Baltimore, who sits at 28-69 right now, 39 1⁄2 games out of first in the AL East and 30 games behind in the AL Wild Card race.
Also, the Rockies entered the All-Star Break playing their best baseball of the season, having won 13 of their last 16 games. That is not a team in position to trade away its best player and MVP candidate. If anything, the Rockies are in position to be buyers at the deadline.
Additionally, both articles are based on the premise that the ship has sailed when it comes to the Rockies signing Arenado to a contract extension. That is a premise that I flatly reject. The only comments Arenado has made about his impending free agency are that he wants to wait until after the 2018 season to discuss an extension with the Rockies.
For the Rockies’ part, signing a homegrown star to a lucrative extension during their arbitration years is something they have done several times in the past, signing Todd Helton to a nine-year, $141.5 million deal in 2001, inking Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to deals in 2010 and most recently, signing Charlie Blackmon to a six-year, $108 million extension this April. The Rockies are nothing if not loyal to their guys, sometimes to a fault, and it is hard to see that loyalty not extending to Arenado.
When questioned by Rockies fans on Twitter, Tolbert explained more of his reasoning behind why he thinks the Rockies should trade Arenado, and those tweets illustrate that the impetus behind both articles is in large part ignorance of the Rockies’ situation combined with a dose of good, old-fashioned east coast arrogance:
heavily penalizes not winning the division. So winning anything will be tough the next couple of years. Also, the odds of your team having the highest bid on a guy like arenado are low. COL just isn’t that type of team. So if you can’t win with him and you can’t— Stephen (@b_outliers) July 20, 2018
re-sign him, then discussing if you should trade him before he loses value, like Machado, is a perfectly logical and reasonable path to take. It’s not hate, or stupidity. It’s just operating in most likely outcomes.— Stephen (@b_outliers) July 20, 2018
Tolbert’s two main points here are that the Rockies cannot compete with the Dodgers in the next two seasons and that they cannot re-sign Arenado. Both of these are illogical.
To the first point, if the Rockies are going to make all of their decisions based on competing with the Dodgers, then as long as the Dodgers are super-rich, which is the foreseeable future, the Rockies should just not try to win and frankly they should probably just fold up the franchise. Guess what? That is not going to happen, and the Rockies are going to continue doing the best they can to put a competitive product on the field.
The second point has already been discussed, but it is worth pointing out that, according to Spotrac, the Rockies entered 2018 with a payroll north of $154 million, 15th in baseball, and that Dick Monfort has made no overtures about slashing or capping payroll. In fact, both his words and actions in recent years have shown a willingness to increase payroll if it helps the chances of winning, which an Arenado extension certainly would, even if there was some sticker shock for ownership.
The idea of trading Arenado just does not make sense, as Rockies Twitter stalwart @OakTreeStatus pointed out yesterday, comparing a possible Arenado trade to the Marlins trade of Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007:
Prospects are PROSPECTIVE. Most do not pan out. Read a list from 2012 and see how many names you even recognize. Since there is no guarantee on prospects materializing, hanging on to stars makes sense, ESPECIALLY during windows of contention.— All-Star Lou Call (@OakTreeStatus) July 19, 2018
Where the idea of trading Arenado fails most, though, is when you consider the human element. Trading him while the team is seemingly in the midst of a playoff push would be the biggest PR disaster in franchise history. Bigger than the World Series ticket fiasco, bigger than “If product and experience that bad, don’t come!”, bigger than anything.
Not only would it destroy the Rockies’ relationship with their fans, it would wreck morale in the clubhouse, causing other players to lose trust with management, seeing as they pitched guys like Blackmon and recent free agent signing Wade Davis on their desire to compete in the near future.
With all of that said, the idea of the Rockies trading Arenado remains preposterous and, luckily, one Jeff Bridich and his bosses will not be considering so long as the Rockies remain in contention.