The baseball hot stove is off to an exhilarating start with many big deals having already come together.
The winter meetings have not even started yet, and Patrick Corbin has already landed a massive deal from the Washington Nationals. Nathan Evoldi re-signed with the Red Sox for over $60 million. And most recently the Arizona Diamondbacks traded All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for three players and a 2019 Competitive Balance Round B draft pick.
Heading into the offseason, there was speculation that Arizona would ponder moving on from its franchise cornerstone and begin what would likely be a lengthy rebuild. The Diamondbacks wasted no time and dealt Goldschmidt quickly, signifying that Arizona feels its title window has closed.
The deal opens up the National League West a little bit more, but the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers remain the favorites to capture the division crown in 2019. More important than division implications, the situation in Phoenix, AZ., shows that Colorado would be wise to lock down Nolan Arenado.
Just like Goldschmidt, Arenado is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season. So the Rockies find themselves in an uncomfortable situation entering the year without a long-term commitment from the 27-year-old. There has been no indication that Arenado and the Rockies have made any traction on an extension, which casts a sense of doubt over the future outlook of the franchise as everyone ponders his potential exit.
While Colorado’s situation with Arenado is similar Arizona’s with Goldschmidt, the Rockies would be wise to do the opposite of its division rival and hang onto Arenado. If the Rockies were seriously considering moving him, the time to do so would have been last season.
Arizona received Carson Kelly, Andrew Young, and Luke Weaver in addition to the draft pick in the deal for Goldschmidt. The Diamondbacks went for volume in the deal and the overall return was a bit lackluster, considering Goldschmidt’s impact.
While Goldy has just one season left on his current contract, it is safe to assume St. Louis will look to re-sign the all-star first baseman to a lucrative deal. If the Cardinals are able to do so, then the red birds will definitely be viewed as the winners in this trade.
Trading Goldschmidt was justifiable, but Arizona did not necessarily receive a premium return for a premium player. Kelly is projected to be a solid player and Weaver should slide into the rotation nicely; however, the lack of top-tier talent is a bit underwhelming.
As one person put it, “Cardinals won (the trade), Diamondbacks got a meh return.” Another said, “More would have been nice, of course, but this seemed fair.”
Applying the same set of principals to a deal involving Arenado just does not make much sense for the Rockies, unless Colorado would be receiving a massive overhaul of talent. Arenado is on par with Goldschmidt at the plate and is a better defender. He is also younger and plays a more vital position. Any deal for Arenado would need to be outstanding for Colorado.
So where does this leave the Rockies?
Well, Colorado is pinned between a rock and a hard place, but will likely have to ride this season out and roll the dice on Arenado choosing to stay. Trading Arenado now would only disgruntle a fanbase that has grown significantly over the past two seasons. With the potential of a third straight run at the playoffs, moving Arenado would undo much of that growth and get the Rockies killed in the court of public opinion.
The Rockies have been working progressively to improve every year and contend for a World Series title. 2019 will be a critical season for Colorado as the Rockies look to take the next step as a franchise though.
Trying to compete for a title with the cloud of Arenado’s potential exit hanging over the club certainly adds some pressure. That said, Arenado has not been afraid to say that winning is his highest priority. If the Rockies continue to trend in the right direction and improve on last season’s success, Colorado just might be able to convince No. 28 to stay for the long haul and potentially bring the first championship home to 20th and Blake.