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Why the Rockies should trade Nolan Arenado

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It breaks my heart to say that, but it’s the right thing to do

The Rockies should trade Nolan Arenado.

There. I said it. And now I’m so blue that I just want to curl up in a ball and watch hours of #NolanBeingNolan highlights.

It isn’t about money and Arenado’s $260 million contract, though the Rockies have made clear that they’re interested in reshuffling their payroll. It isn’t about navigating Arenado’s opt-out clause that makes him a challenging trade prospect, and it isn’t about getting a slew of prospects to reinforce a sagging farm system.

For me, it’s a much more emotional calculus. Arenado is a generational baseball talent—we know this. Indeed, all of baseball does. And all Arenado wants to do is what every gifted person wants to do: he wants to push himself and use his skills to see what he can do, how far he can go. Arenado has always been clear about the one thing he wants most, more than money and awards: he wants to win.

As Rockies fans, we’ve known that for a long time. Arenado plays with passion, and he hates losing. When he’s on the field he is 100% committed—and he never holds back. That’s why watching him in a slump is so painful: we know how hard he works and that he wants so much to get back in the groove. And it’s why watching him turn one of those impossibly beautiful throws to first base never gets old. It’s why when German Márquez was on the verge of a no-hitter in San Francisco and a ball snuck by Arenado—despite all his efforts—he threw glove into the dirt with disgust. That’s why after the Rockies lost the 2017 Wild Card game, he grabbed his clothes and his glove and just left and spent the offseason haunted by that game.

We really love this guy. And it’s why we have to let him go.

After watching the Rockies slog through a grim 71-91 2019 season and now an offseason defined by stasis, it’s nearly impossible to make a case that the Rockies are a contending team. In the not-a-press-conference press conference, Jeff Bridich promised fans that the team “would not look the same in 2020,” even as Dick Monfort stressed that the Rockies would not be spending significant financial resources. Maybe I’ve missed something, but the 2020 Rockies look to be very much the same team, just without Tyler Anderson and Chad Bettis. It’s difficult to see how cutting them has improved the roster.

When the Rockies signed a long-term contract with Arenado, they promised him they would build around him. They appear to have broken that promise. If reports are true (and I think they are), Arenado called the organization out on it, which was not criticism received positively. That’s why Arenado said he felt “disrespected.” It’s not about the money; it’s about the empty promises.

Watching Arenado has never been anything but a joy. Even during the worst games, Arenado brought something special to the field, and even when things were bad, there was a good chance he would do something amazing. We love him for it, and we love him because in addition to being so very good, every day he plays with his heart on his sleeve, holding nothing back.

I want to see what Arenado can do in an organization that values him. As much as I miss DJ LeMahieu, it’s been something to watch him become the King of New York. (We knew he was good; I’m not sure we knew he was that good). It’s been great to see what Mike Tauchman can do when he’s given a better analytics department and an opportunity. And let’s hear it for Tom Murphy who finally got a shot in Seattle.

We all get what makes Arenado special. He’s shared that with us for years. Now it’s time for him to play for an organization that will value him and give him what he most wants: A chance to win.