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Untangling the Nolan Arenado drama

Arenado made some comments yesterday that didn’t sit well with Rockies fans

It hurts.

Nolan Arenado is a full-fledged member of the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting clutch home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals, and making curtain calls as a St. Louis Cardinal.

He also reportedly has been recruiting himself to the St. Louis Cardinals for the past two years:

This, if true, changes the way Rockies fans view him and the way he left town. Remember, his extension — his eight-year $260 million extension was signed just two years ago.

It sure looks like he used the Rockies because he knew they would be under pressure by the fans to sign him and would overpay. The Rockies, for their part, probably thought they had a fool-proof plan by adding in the opt-out after three years. Arenado would either stay, becoming a lifetime member of the organization, or he would opt out and be the bad guy. Jeff Bridich and Dick Monfort could say they did all they could.

What the Rockies front office didn't expect was for Arenado to ask for a trade so quickly after signing the deal. Furthermore, he had the no-trade clause which he surely insisted be included. With that in hand, and knowing public perception would be on his side, Arenado had all the power. He began using his relationship with Adam Wainwright to get the Cardinals interested and started airing out his damaged relationship with the Rockies front office in the media and angling his way toward a trade to his destination of choice.

Clearly, Bridich and Monfort had their role to play in this whole thing and definitely mishandled the entire situation. There is no reason they should have put themselves in position to have to pay $50 million to a team to take Arenado off their hands. In Arenado’s eyes, they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain as far as putting a winning team around their star third baseman. But the news coming out yesterday seems to indicate that Arenado played a much bigger role in the relationship falling apart than originally assumed by the Denver media and Rockies fanbase.

Quotes have been coming out from the Rockies clubhouse this spring about how loose the team is, mirroring comments made by Kevin Pillar when Arenado went down with an injury in 2020. It is giving light to the fact that there was clearly tension on the team with Arenado around (not necessarily his fault) that dissipated when he was gone. Arenado is definitely a competitor who values winning over just about everything else and that can rub some people the wrong way. Him making comments about the front office not trying to put a winning team around him definitely insinuates that his teammates in the clubhouse aren’t good enough, which could also cause tension. Perhaps, and this is pure speculation, he purposely distanced himself in the clubhouse in order to put pressure on the Rockies brass to trade him.

The quotes coming out on April 8, 2021 — both from Nolan Arenado and Adam Wainwright — will definitely be remembered as a turning point of how Arenado is viewed by Rockies fans moving forward. It’s possible that Wainwright exaggerated or remembered the timing incorrectly. Maybe Nolan got caught up in the moment and we can chalk his comments up to the honeymoon phase. That would be easy to do with any one of these comments, but taken together, it’s hard not to look at Arenado’s exit from the Rockies differently.

The Father’s Day cycle, the Gold Gloves, and the pure passion Arenado played the game with will never be taken away. But it will also never be forgotten that he demanded a trade and worked multiple angles to make a trade happen. On top of everything, he also claimed one week into playing for his new team that it was an experience with the fans that he never had in Colorado. And that is something that this father of one of Nolan Arenado’s biggest fans will never forget.