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Rockies news and links for Thursday, October 15, 2020
If you happened to have thought that trade rumors surrounding Nolan Arenado were a thing of the past once he signed his mega-deal in February 2019, you were given a rude awakening last Spring when Nolan publicly expressed his discontent with the club and the trade speculation exploded like never before. Fast forward eight months and Nolan remains a Rockie, but the offseason is sure to bring a lot more questions about his future with the club.
Just in case that wasn’t enough stress for you, Trevor Story is just a year away from free agency adding a little more uncertainty to the Rockies future. Nothing like having your two best players be two of the most talked about players in the “might be leaving their current team soon” conversation.
The fact of the matter is, it’s not a completely unlikely scenario that at least one of those guys isn’t playing for the Rockies by the end of the 2021 season. The question is, who would you rather have if you were only allowed one?
Let’s start at the hot corner with Nolan. If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last year or so preparing for his departure as an attempt to soften the blow for when the day comes that he heads elsewhere. Last winter it was all about the Cubs, Mets, and Cardinals, three teams that made the playoffs this year. Arenado has been very outspoken about his desire to consistently play October baseball, as well as the extra disappointment that came from missing out on an expanded postseason this year.
Nobody here needs me to waste too much of their time explaining what Nolan means to this team. He’s a historically great fielder, one of the best hitters in the game, and had the third highest slugging percentage on the team this year (.434) despite being more than 100 points short of his career mark of .541. There’s no way to spin it other than losing Arenado would be a huge blow to this team.
The baseball gods do seem, however, to be doing their best to help the Rockies in the pursuit to keep Nolan. A shoulder injury caused a down year at the plate for Arenado, potentially warding off some suitors and the financial hit caused by the pandemic may limit the amount of teams willing to fork over the amount of money he’s currently owed ($199 million through 2026 anybody?) The only positive to Nolan playing elsewhere is the fact that the Rockies would free up some payroll space to lock down some other players.
Enter Trevor Story.
Story is two years younger than Nolan Arenado, wouldn’t require quite as much money as his left-side of the infield partner, and was the team’s leader in homers, stolen bases, and second in RBI in 2020. He’s quietly become one of the top two or three shortstops in baseball over the last few years and seems to get better every year. Once again, a future without Story is a bleak one for the Rockies.
With that said, due to the lower salary demands he will require, it is possible the Rockies could get a better return for Story. The team’s prospect pool was recently ranked 28th in the majors by MLB Pipeline. If we’re being blunt, an incredible haul for Story probably isn’t going to be enough to turn this team into a winner, even if it does lead to a farm system boost. The Rockies have more than a few holes at the major league level. With Trevor just entering his prime, trading him away would do more harm than it would good, not just now, but in the future as well.
If you thought I would be providing an answer to this question when you opened the article, I hate to inform you that you were mistaken. The thought of losing either player is too hard to stomach so I just came to lay out some facts and let you decide which you’d prefer wearing another team’s colors. The Rockies are blessed with having two of the best players at their respective positions in the game and losing either one would be a tough break for the club. As fans, we can only hope they come up with some creative way to keep both (and also improve the team around them). That’s not asking too much, right?
Assuming Nolan Arenado does in fact stay with the Rockies next year, he’s going to be creeping up on a Rockies all-timer in a variety of categories. Larry Walker, a recent Hall of Fame inductee, sits just 156 hits ahead of Nolan, a number the third baseman surpassed in every season between 2015-2019. He’s also only 24 homers and 294 total bases behind the former Rockies outfielder. Assuming he recovers from the shoulder injury that plagued him this year and puts up a typical Nolan season (while still wearing purple) Arenado will continue his climb up various Rockies all-time leaderboards in 2021.