TCN St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Top Story #2: The Nolan Arenado Trade

photo: Nolan Arenado (Joe Puetz/USA TODAY Sports)

Because it happened over 11 months ago and Nolan Arenado has so seamlessly fit into the fabric of the St. Louis Cardinals, it can be easy to forget the mega-trade occurred in 2021. However, its lasting importance to the Cardinals (expected to be at least seven years) pushed this story ahead of the performance of the 2021 team in this top stories list.

The dissatisfaction of Arenado in Colorado and his clashes with former Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich were well documented in the media over a several year period of increasing relationship disintegration.

The interest of the St. Louis Cardinals in acquiring the eight-time Gold Glove Award winning third baseman had also been widely speculated for some time. In fact, by the time 2021 came around, the trade rumors/hopes had been lingering for so long that many had tuned out the possibility after months of all talk and no action.

However, the Cardinals persisted and on February 1, the long-awaited trade occurred. Five players went to Colorado in return for the 29-year-old five-time All-Star – left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers – third baseman Elehuris Montero, right-handed reliever Tony Locey, shortstop Mateo Gil and right-hander Jake Sommers.

Nolan Arenado

To enable the trade, the Cardinals restructured Arenado’s contract, adding the year of 2027 onto the back end of the deal. Player opt-outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons and no-trade protection remained.

The Rockies sent $50 million to St. Louis to apply against Arenado’s salary of $35 million per year from 2021-2024, $32 million in 2025, $27 million in 2026 and the additional amount of $15 million in 2027.

Many outside observers felt the Cardinals fleeced the Rockies in the trade, and many Colorado fans were outraged over the loss of their franchise player. Several months later, Bridich was fired.

Starting a team high 155 games, Arenado led the Cardinals in home runs with 34 (tied with Tyler O’Neill) and RBI with 105. Both totals tied for seventh in the National League. He also won the Gold and Platinum Gloves for his defensive prowess.

On November 7, 2021, Arenado formally confirmed his decision to not exercise the first of his two opt-outs.

Due to the quality of the player, the size of the financial commitment and the years involved, this was the Cardinals’ biggest trade in years and the most important involving the hot corner since the acquisition of Scott Rolen in 2002.

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