Some things are so preposterous that pushing them aside is only natural. A Nolan Arenado trade by the Colorado Rockies appears to be just that.
A recent article by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic broke down the possibility. Among the reasons brought forth for the move was a lack of starting pitchers that would spurn other teams to pitch at Coors Field.
As a nationally-respected writer, it wouldn’t behoove Rosenthal to put out topics that are outlandish. The idea, while misleading on the surface, is one the team will likely have to peruse if their current trajectory continues. Such a deal would be complicated.
The leading example that Rosenthal chose to use was Giancarlo Stanton’s trade to the New York Yankees. Executed in 2017, the slugger was dealt to The Bronx as part of a teardown of the franchise.
In return, the Marlins received Starlin Castro and prospects Jesus Guzman and Jose Devers. The former was the Yankees’ No. 9 prospect at the time, while Devers was unranked. A total of $30 million will also be sent to the Yankees if Stanton chooses not to opt-out after next season.
Of the three, only Castro has graced the field for the club. Both Guzman (Double-A Jacksonville) and Devers (Single-A Clinton) are in the minors still.
The similarities between Stanton and Arenado are multiple. Both have received likely the largest contract of their careers, as well as multiple all-star nods. The former was dealt following a National League MVP nod, while the latter has finished top-10 in voting in each of the last four seasons.
Suitors for Arenado are also extensive. The Chicago White Sox would likely be interested after striking out on their attempts to get Manny Machado in the offseason. Interest in the star could also come from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets – among others.
Of the possible destinations, the White Sox make the most sense. In the latest MLB.com farm system standings, they were ranked ninth.
Acquiring pitchers – much like the Rockies did with the Troy Tulowitzki deal – would be the top priority. In the White Sox’ system, both Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech stand out. Between the two, Cease is the most experienced. In 12 starts in the majors, he’s registered a 6.53 earned run average.
The more electric of the two is Kopech.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery, the flamethrower has been out for the year, with his 2020 future still in flux. The 23-year-old has flashed huge potential in limited time with the White Sox after being acquired for Chris Sale.
In four starts, he struck out 15 in 14.1 innings and registered a 5.02 ERA. More notably, he’s displayed a mid-90s fastball that reaches triple digits. His high-velocity repertoire is complemented by a wipeout slider.
To acquire Kopech, the Rockies would be on the hook for a portion of Arenado’s deal. If they hoped to add to the haul, a sizable amount of money would have to be included with the third baseman.
Another intriguing possibility is the Mets. The club is currently trapped between competing and developing, which opens the window for a splash move.
At third base, the Mets currently have free-agent-to-be Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil. Moving McNeil over to second base, ridding the contract of Robinson Cano and placing Arenado at third base would make sense. A move for McNeil to the outfield would make things easier.
The bevy of moving parts required to make a deal would make things difficult, but possible.
A package built around the Mets’ No. 7 prospect, David Peterson, would make sense. The burly lefty started 24 games in 2019 for Double-A Binghamton. He registered a 4.19 ERA in that span. The southpaw’s sinker would likely play well at Coors Field.
Kevin Smith, the Mets’ No. 11 prospect would make sense as well. In six starts with Double-A Binghamton, he also found success with a 3.45 ERA.
The Rockies’ stockpile of left-handed starting pitchers outside of Kyle Freeland and top-prospect Ryan Rolison is bare. Acquiring either – or both – of the Mets’ left-handed prospects would help. Acquiring both would once again likely force the club to include money with Arenado.
The possibility of an Arenado trade for the Rockies appears slim. A rough start to the 2020 season would likely change that. Rebuilding around David Dahl, Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers could make sense. Adding in some of the aforementioned prospects and ancillary pieces would help.
A possible haul for the Rockies would likely be far less than pundits anticipated, much like it was for Stanton. For now, it’s just speculation.