It is never easy when a player’s name is mentioned in trade talks, especially when the player is a superstar with a long and successful track record with the team and is beloved by its fans.
So it couldn’t have been easy for Nolan Arenado, the Rockies all-star third baseman, to hear his name tossed around in theoretical trade talks with the Dodgers, White Sox and Cardinals, among other teams.
Now it appears the tension that’s created is coming to a head and may eventually cause Arenado to be asked to be traded.
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich admitted to the Denver Post the team has listened to trade talks. But he also said it expected Arenado to be with the team when spring training rolls around.
“We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected – with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman. So we can put this to bed,” Bridich told the Post.
But instead of that calming the situation, it only seemed to worsen it. When Arenado was asked by MLB.com to react to the situation, he fired back high and hard.
“There’s a lot of disrespect from people there that I don’t want to be a part of,” Arenado said in a text. “You can quote that. You ask what I thought of Jeff’s quotes and I say I don’t care what people say around there. There is a lot of disrespect.”
When MLB.com asked Arenado to expound he declined. But he eventually admitted there’s more to his discontent than the trade rumors that have swirled for weeks.
Although he’s certainly one of the best players in the game, certainly the top defensive third baseman, it’s understandable the Rockies may be trying to trade him.
Entering the second year of his eight-year, $260 million deal, it appears Colorado bit off more than it can chew and might be looking for financial relief before Arenado’s opt out clause hits following the 2021 season. He’s due $35 million this season.
The Rockies finished 20 games below .500 last season and it appears the organization is getting ready to reboot. If that’s the case, the team would enrich itself twice-over by dealing Arenado – financially and by receiving what would be a fine package of players and prospects in return.
“We sat with him (Arenado), like we have every year,” Bridich said during the Winter Meetings. “We talked about the team, we talked about the season, we talked about the organization. We didn’t specifically talk about this [trade rumors]. We’ll see; if it gets to that point, then it gets to that point.”
What might be bothering Arenado is the lack of movement the organization has made in the offseason to build a better team around him. You can understand how that might frustrate him, particularly if Bridich promised he’d try and acquire some help for the bullpen and starting rotation.
After the season ended, Bridich told a scrum of Rockies media if the team planned to dive fully into a rebuild that Arenado likely wouldn’t be around to benefit from it; the implication being his trade would be central to the process.
There’s no doubt Arenado is the team’s top trade chip. He’s a five-time All-Star who has won seven Gold Gloves and hit at least 37 homers in each of the past five season, including 41 to go along with 118 RBIs and a .315 average last season.
The Rockies are experiencing some financial duress with their $157.1 million payroll. To go along with Arenado, they owe centerfielder Charlie Blackmon $21 million and reliever Wade Davis at least another $17 million.
“Look, this is the time of year where those conversations happen. This is the time of year where we at least listen to teams and go, ‘OK, well, should we try to investigate and put something together?’ That’s what these jobs are. We have people to do those sorts of things. I can’t sit here and go, ‘No, never, ever,’” Bridich said.
Of course, it appears Bridich can’t always be trusted. The Athletic pointed out a situation that happened five years ago regarding Troy Tulowitzki, at that time the team’s premier player.
Bridich got angry with the media for forwarding a story line that claimed the organization was planning to trade him. Two months later, the GM dealt the player to the Blue Jays which Tulowitzki told the reporters blindsided him and showed a lack of respect.
If the Rockies and Arenado truly have a problem with each other, things are going to get a lot worse around the team before they get better.