photo: Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals)
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Monday, February 1) that they have completed a six-player trade with the Colorado Rockies, acquiring five-time (2015-19) National League All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado and cash considerations in exchange for left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber, infielder Elehuris Montero, right-handed pitcher Tony Locey, infielder Mateo Gil and right-handed pitcher Jake Sommers.
Arenado will retain player options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, and he has agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2027 that would extend his contract to seven years in length.
“Many have heard me say that one of the great things about baseball is that you always have a chance to get better,” stated Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “Today we got better! A deal of this nature, acquiring a player of Nolan’s considerable talents, are the ones that can set you apart in many ways. It certainly shows the commitment of Mr. DeWitt and ownership to continue to give our great fans a team that aims to win – both now and in the future.”
Arenado, 29, regarded as the premier third baseman in Major League Baseball, has won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for eight consecutive seasons (2013-20) to begin his professional career and has been awarded the National League Platinum Glove Award, presented by Rawlings, in each of the last four seasons (2017-20) – honoring him as the league’s best overall defender.
The 6-2, 215-pound California native is tied with former Cardinal Scott Rolen for the third-most Gold Glove Awards by a third baseman in MLB history, trailing only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10), and joins Schmidt and Robinson as the only third basemen to win at least eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards. The superstar third baseman’s four Platinum Glove Awards ties catcher Yadier Molina (2011-12, 2014-15) for the most since the award’s inception in 2011.
A four-time Silver Slugger award recipient (2015-18), the right-handed hitting Arenado has led the National League in home runs three times (2015-16, 2018), and finished in the top-10 in NL MVP voting four seasons (2016-19), including a top-five finish for three consecutive seasons from 2016-18.
Drafted by the Rockies in the 2nd round in 2009 out of El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., Arenado has compiled a .293/.349/.541 career batting mark with a .890 OPS. He has slugged 235 home runs among his 1,206 career hits while driving in 760 runs in 1,079 games.
Since 2014, Arenado leads all of Major League Baseball in extra-base hits (481), total bases (2,030), RBI (708), and game-winning RBI (93); ranks 2nd in go-ahead RBI (169); 3rd in slugging pct. (.559); 4th in home runs (225); 5th in hits (1,076) and runs scored (600); T-5th in doubles (233); and 8th in OPS (.914).
For the 60-game 2020 season, Arenado led NL third basemen in total chances (163), double plays (19), zone rating (.848), defensive runs saved (15) and defensive WAR (1.7), while ranking second in assists (117), and third in fielding percentage (.982) and putouts (43).
Arenado, who will now be teamed with Paul Goldschmidt, giving the Cardinals one of the games’ top corner infield tandems, was joined by “Goldy” as members of the N.L. All-Star team in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The two also were teammates on USA Baseball’s Gold Medal winning team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Today’s trade with the Rockies is another in a number of headline-grabbing deals between the two teams, that in past years netted the Cardinals All-Star pitcher Darryl Kile (November, 1999) and Hall of Famer Larry Walker (August, 2004). In addition, the Redbirds also employed the services of former Rockies great and perennial All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday for seven-plus seasons (2009-16), including their 2011 World Championship campaign.
Gomber offered his goodbye via social media.
Thank you for June 2nd 2018. A day I will never forget and a day I am forever grateful for. Thank you taking a chance on me and allowing me to achieve dreams I never thought were possible. Putting on the birds on the bat everyday was a blessing.
THANK YOU @Cardinals pic.twitter.com/khtvSG7gBl
— Austin Gomber (@AustinGomber) February 2, 2021
Brian Walton’s take
Though four of the rumored six names changed in the time between when the story broke and the trade was finalized Monday night, the bottom line has not. The Cardinals received a superstar player and did not significantly hurt either their major league club or their farm system in the process. This is a clear win for St. Louis.
What has yet to be disclosed are the financial particulars, including how much of the reported $51 million is coming with Arenado and when as well as how much salary Arenado is deferring and in what years.
Update: Here is how the Cardinals made the trade and still stuck to their “payroll neutral” vow.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 2, 2021
It was earlier rumored, but not yet confirmed, that Arenado would be retaining his no-trade protection while a Cardinal.
There has also been confusion about the timing of the two opt outs. The wording in the press release did not make it clear that the choices will be available to Arenado prior to the 2022 and 2023 seasons. In other words, after the 2021 and 2022 seasons. However, he is not expected to exercise them.
In terms of the four minor leaguers heading West with major leaguer Gomber, none of them were among the initially rumored names and only three are top 50 ranked prospects.
2021 #stlcards prospect rankings from The Cardinal Nation:
Sommers unranked https://t.co/h3WASq62sr
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) February 2, 2021
Of the four minor leaguers in the trade, Montero is the closest to the majors and possesses a power bat. However, the 22-year old was clearly blocked at third base by a better prospect, Nolan Gorman, and now Arenado.
Gil has yet to reach full season ball, but is a strong defender who needs to grow offensively. This winter, the 20-year old played for his dad, former MLB shortstop, Benji, in the Mexican League.
Locey is big and strong and could remain a starter or become a power reliever. The right-hander, the Cards’ third-rounder from the University of Georgia, has not yet played a full season as a professional. The fastball-slider specialist fanned 28 in 15 innings in 2019.
Sommers, 23, is a former 10th-rounder who pitched at Rookie Advanced Johnson City in 2019 to the tune of a 4.15 ERA.
The Cardinals net down one 40-man roster spot as a result of the trade, with Gomber and Montero coming off and Arenado being added. The 40-man is now at 37 players.
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
Join the ongoing and lively Arenado trade discussion at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board. See you there!
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