Nolan Arenado trade to Cardinals complete
Well, how’s this for a Friday night blockbuster. Or does it really count as a blockbuster when you’re paying money to trade a player and not getting much back? Whatever you want to call it, it’s a big one. Nolan Arenado, one of the best third basemen in baseball and a guy who is probably on a Hall of Fame track, has been traded to the Cardinals. Things are not official and they’re not expected to be any time super soon because of how complicated this deal is, but reports indicate the trade is agreed upon.
We’ll start with the good, or at least more positive assessment, which is that the Cardinals are going for it. All winter it had seemed like no one in the NL Central was particularly interested in taking a step forward, and now St. Louis has thrown down the gaunlet by adding a star third baseman. Arenado is coming off a down year, but it was a weird and shortened 2020 season, and he had four consecutive seasons with a wRC+ over 125 before that.
I’m not particularly concerned about 2020 for someone who had been as consistently great as him, nor am I worried about his road numbers away from Coors. The Cardinals should know as well as anybody that players who look like they can only hit at Coors can be just fine after given their experience with Matt Holliday. Generally speaking, playing at Coors and the effect the altitude has on breaking balls there tends to have a negative effect for Rockies players when they play on the road. St. Louis should get a middle of the order hitter who will also provide better third base defense than just about anyone else in baseball save for probably Matt Chapman.
As for the Rockies, well, I mean where do you even start. Part of this I think goes along with the issues in baseball that led to other stars — i.e. Francisco Lindor and Mookie Betts — being traded from franchises where they served as the face, but this to me is more of a Rockies-specific problem. And the problem is that they are, frankly, a bad organization. There’s nothing in stone about who the Rockies are expected to get back here, but it’s not expected to be anyone from the top nine or so prospects in St. Louis’s organization, and I haven’t mentioned yet that Colorado is sending along $50 million for the pleasure of trading Arenado.
There’s a few reasons for this return being so terrible. One is the down 2020, which is what it is. Then there’s the fact that Arenado can opt out after 2021, which if you recall is because the Rockies gave him that opt out without Arenado even asking for it. That’s not something good organizations do, and it’s biting them here. And third is because Arenado wanted out because they were such a bad organization, and he had a no-trade clause so their hands were tied. They could keep him around, and I would argue they probably should have kept him around and forced him to use that opt out next year, but their prior incompetence led to this in multiple ways. Oh, and now they expect to get Trevor Story to want to sign long-term. Good luck with that.
Any team in baseball could have made this deal, but again Arenado had a no-trade clause and basically got to pick the teams for whom he’d like to play, so it’s not that simple. I’ll expand a bit on the Red Sox-specific side of this in tomorrow’s mailbag. But the other part of this is that the Rockies might as well just tear it down now. There’s no indication they are going to, to be fair, but that would make some sense. And if they do, well, guys like Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela and Jon Gray could be available, as could Charlie Blackmon, though I’d have to think a bit more about how I feel about that as a potential Red Sox target.
Eddie Rosario signs in Cleveland
Back at the non-tender deadline, there were a few players who entered the free agency pool that opened some eyes, with Eddie Rosario being near the top of that list. The former Twin is not a great player by any means, but he’s a good one that can be a fit for a lot of teams. That includes one of his former rivals in Cleveland, who swopped in and grabbed the outfielder on a one-year deal worth $8 million.
Cleveland has had one of the worst outfielders in all of baseball for what seems like forever at this point, so it makes sense that they would go after someone like this. Of course, it makes less sense that they would only do it after they trade Francisco Lindor, but that’s another conversation. Rosario should largely be limited to left field, but he can play solid defense out there. And at the plate he should provide enough to hit in the middle of their lineup. The lefty has put up a wRC+ of at least 110 in three of the last four years, and has shown consistent power over that time frame as well. When you consider that their outfield as a whole had a wRC+ of 54 — even in a shortened season, that is staggering for a contender — this is a huge upgrade.
As much as I do like the player, though, there really wasn’t a fit for the Red Sox. He was one of those players, like Michael Brantley and Marcell Ozuna, who I liked as players but didn’t see as a fit on this roster unless the Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi. It looks like those talks have cooled down, and so there really isn’t an argument for left field only players. The Red Sox need defense from any outfielder they target from here on out, and Rosario just doesn’t fit that profile.