ST. LOUIS — Some things are just too good to be true. Toilet paper stock after a snow forecast of two to three inches. People merging easily onto a highway correctly. The Cardinals making another huge blockbuster move? Maybe not as much fiction around the Lou today, perhaps.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, St. Louis is talking with the Colorado Rockies about a guy named Nolan Arenado. Once again, the Arenado sweepstakes train fires up and heads down the track. We've been here before, like a gambler stuck at that one bittersweet yet trusted poker table. Teams discussing the fate of their ball clubs like we would discuss dinner plans seems superficial on the surface, but more real today due to Rosenthal's piece.
All the while, Cardinal Nation sits idle back home, wondering if their team has just struck the kind of deal that changes a pennant chase in a heartbeat, or drummed up the beat long enough for an encore of hot air once again? You be the judge, and then I'll keep talking.
If you don't subscribe to The Athletic, allow me to break down the juiciest bits from the Rosenthal piece. Talks have taken place. Arenado would be willing to waive his no-trade clause and possibly push back his right to opt out of a contract that runs through 2026. The Rockies would receive at least one high-priced veteran Cardinal in order for the deal to happen, as well as prospects. While Rosenthal notes that no deal seems close, he does say that a few different sources say each side is motivated to make a deal.
This would be completely out of left field for the Cardinals, who were the only team yet to make an official move before they finally re-signed Adam Wainwright on Thursday afternoon. That's a modest move to install stability to the rotation and keep one veteran voice in the clubhouse. Acquiring Arenado would be a ship-shaking exercise, but one that fans and players would adore alike.
Could Coors Field feature the very best version of Arenado at the plate? Sure. But the same could be said for just about every player in the league. Think about Mike Trout swinging away over there? Arenado is still a solid hitter away from Coors, and he also owns EIGHT straight Gold Glove trophies. He's an equalizer for the lineup and the infield, a dual-faceted force that could propel the team into a run at the World Series, and not just a participation award.
Rosenthal reporting makes it more real than ever. A certain light clicks on when his name (at least the verified one!) chimes in on something with blockbuster weight like this. The first line of his piece for The Athletic began like this: "A trade of Nolan Arenado finally might be coming into focus." Those are big words. It is a statement.
Will a trade happen? I am still doubtful, but when inspected deeper, the "not a chance" label does slide off the table. Here's a good discussion with Rafay Asrar about Bill DeWitt Jr. possibly finding a way to fit one of the largest salaries in baseball into a "salary cutting" offseason.
Wong was set to make $12.5 million, and the Cardinals declined the option. Basic no thanks, bro. If Carpenter heads to Colorado, that's $18.5 million heading west. If Dexter Fowler makes a return to Denver, that is $16 million riding with him. If the Cardinals do find a trade partner for Carlos Martinez, that's $17 million. Arenado will make $35 million in each of the next four seasons, and the following two years aren't cheaper than $27 million. In a nutshell, St. Louis would have to lose three big salaries to add one extra-large contract.
Here's the thing. Arenado changes the entire picture for St. Louis and has been consistent. Think about the team going large for Giancarlo Stanton (only to be rebuffed at the altar by the current Yankees outfielder). If they did that for the injury-riddled former Marlin, they may do it for a guy like Arenado. As my pal Rafay pointed out, it's not too far-fetched.
All the inaction taken into account, I still wouldn't put it past DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak to pull this kind of heist off. Remember the legit deal in place to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. The offers to Jason Heyward (thank goodness for a decline) and David Price (wish they would have paid more) show a desire to spend. But at what cost in trade? That's the big detail here. Losing a couple maybes would be worth acquiring a for-sure talent like Arenado.
They acquired Paul Goldschmidt in a trade that paid off with a five-year contract and renewed production in 2020. He's not slowing down, at least when it comes to producing results. Arenado could form a tandem in the lineup and at the corners with Goldschmidt quite nicely, Gold Glove winners playing catch for 162 games a year.
After an extremely slow start, the Cardinals front office has life again, and it's not over a journeyman slugger or half-baked reliever. It's over a guy named Nolan, one who could quickly transform a franchise. With no disrespect to Nolan Gorman (who can play other positions), you make way for proven All Star players.
Let it be true. Please, make Cardinals baseball exciting again.
Thanks for reading,