Every once in a while, there comes an athlete that genuinely transcends the rest of the competition. The kind of athlete that is so special that when they take the field, the entire stadium stops what they’re doing in fear of missing something spectacular. The kind of athlete that is so uniquely talented, generations of fans could grow up without ever seeing some else come close to their skill level.
Nolan Arenado is that kind of athlete for the Colorado Rockies — and that is why Tuesday’s news of an eight-year $260 million contract extension is thrilling for local baseball fans.
The deal should not only keep the 27-year-old third baseman in purple pinstripes for the prime years of his career, but it will do so without drastically handicapping Colorado’s longterm payroll flexibility. Sure, $32 million per season is a lot of cash for one dude, but considering Arenado is easily one of the best overall players in the MLB, paying him was a far better option than the alternative.
Plus with a player option after 2021, the Rockies and Arenado really have a three-year window to push hard for the World Series, before reevaluating things. If for some reason the Rockies fall out of contention by then, Arenado could always opt out of his deal and test out the open market.
While it seems unlikely that a then-30-year-old infielder would end up commanding the kind of market that he certainly could have expected next summer, the structure of the contract does give both sides some wiggle room down the line.
Honestly, even if the extension does handcuff Colorado’s financial flexibility in the long run, the risk is well worth the potential reward.
Arenado is a once-in-a-generation baseball player and the emotional leader of the clubhouse. Considering the Rockies have long been criticized for failing to commit to winning, the fact that ownership felt comfortable enough to go all-in on Arenado after already sporting the 14th-highest payroll in baseball last season is proof that this is a new era of Rockies baseball.
In the Mile High City, our expectations are sky-high. The Broncos have enjoyed a 59.7 winning percentage since Pat Bowlen bought the team 35 years ago, taking home three Super Bowls during that time and appearing in seven. The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in their first season in existence and then won a second one only five years later. The Nuggets have a storied history, and even though their recent years are littered with losing, they’ve taken fans on a magical journey this year.
For the Rockies, 2019 represents a chance to make the postseason in three straight years in a town where winning is expected, not just hoped for. By signing Arenado to a longterm deal, the Monforts are signaling they’re all-in.