Cardinals and Rockies Agree on Nolan Arenado Trade

photo: Nolan Arenado (USA TODAY Sports)

For the second time in three years, the St. Louis Cardinals have pulled off a major trade for a star corner infielder from a National League West Division also-ran. The newest to don the Birds on the Bat will be third baseman Nolan Arenado, most recently of the Colorado Rockies, following the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona in December 2018.

The news was broken Friday night by national reporter Ken Rosenthal in a series of Tweets.

Another national reporter, Jon Heyman, added further details.

Brian Walton’s take

This appears to be a tremendous deal for the Cardinals and for Arenado, who desperately wanted to get out of Colorado and onto a contender.

Nolan Arenado (Allan Henry/Imagn)

The financials are not totally clear, with a major question being how much of the $50 million is coming to the Cardinals up front. The reason I am interested is that as recently as Friday morning, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak reaffirmed the team would have a down payroll in 2021. The addition of Arenado is far, far from the “payroll neutral” kind of trade they aspired to all winter long.

That touches on another less pressing, but still interesting financial issue – the nature of the salary deferrals due to their impact on the overall yearly payroll of the Cardinals. All of these factors can diminish the blow of the club picking up a $35 million annual salary.

The dual opt outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons are a potential concern, though they are expected to be greatly diminished by the combination of Arenado getting comfortable with his new team and the low odds he could gain more money and years by entering the free agent marketplace.

As far as the prospects rumored to be in the trade, none are considered crucial to St. Louis’ future. As is often the case in these kinds of trades, there is a direct correlation between the quality of prospects included and the amount of salary buyout moving with the traded player.

Also to be noted is that the sources of Jeff Passan of ESPN tell him that Baker is not included in the trade.

Austin Gomber would at best be the Cardinals’ number five starter and Jake Woodford, if he is in the deal, seemed a longshot to ever crack the rotation.

From the 40-man roster perspective, the Cardinals would net down one spot with two leaving (Gomber plus Rondon or Woodford) and one coming in (Arenado). That would put the team at 37, giving them considerable flexibility ahead.

Defensively, the arrival of Arenado would appear to make Matt Carpenter the primary designated hitter. The position has yet to be confirmed for use in the National League in 2021, but it is expected to eventually be negotiated back into the plans for the upcoming season.

The Cardinal Nation will keep on top of this story and will share additional updates as warranted, until the details are finalized and the trade is official.


Related article

Here We Go Again: Arenado to the Cardinals on the Table


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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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