It’s official, folks.
Via Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Nolan Arenado has been acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals. John Mozeliak goes from the hottest of seats to the biggest of thrones in one move, and Bill DeWitt Jr. agrees to open the wallet in a big way. The Cardinals earned the passport from “possible division winner” to “pennant contender” this year, before a salary dump could trigger more roster additions next winter.
Here’s the most important news. The Cardinals are no longer boring. A lively vessel with weapons to choose from in a versatile lineup, this team is exciting again. There are multiple threats in this lineup. Paul Goldschmidt just got more deadly, because he will be hitting in front of, or more likely behind Arenado in the lineup. Newcomer Dylan Carlson, predicted leftfielder, can grow at his own pace. He doesn’t have to be the savior just yet; let the older guys wrestle over that crown.
Speaking of “Goldado,” it’s going to be nice seeing Gold Glover slinging baseballs over to another Gold Glover for hundreds of putouts. A grounder to the left of Arenado, he shifts easily to scoop it up, firing over to Goldschmidt for the final out in the sixth. No wonder Adam Wainwright was giddy during his interviews today. The man knew something was afoot.
It’s becoming that one last ride for the Cardinals’ legends. Wainwright signed first. Arenado is here. Yadier Molina will soon follow. Perhaps Kolten Wong takes chump change for a year to join the party of pals and baseball. February isn’t the new December just yet. January owns that distinction. The last time the team committed so many dollars and years to one player was Matt Holliday back in 2010. Arenado’s contract still pays over $220 million, but the Rockies are sending $50 million to St. Louis. Austin Gomber, among other prospects with little to zero Major League experience, head to Colorado in the swap. This was a heist.
Everyone talks about two things with Arenado: The opt out and the home/road splits. Let’s get into it once again, because I am sure the first time he goes 0-4 at Busch Stadium, the Fangraphs neighborhood watch team will start tackling Cards Twitter.
Do you really think he’s going to opt out of such a large contract as his clock strikes 30 bells? I don’t think so. I think if Arenado waived his no trade clause to leave Colorado and finalize this trade, he isn’t leaving after a single season. The Cardinals’ farm isn’t exactly empty, and Nolan Gorman didn’t head to the mountains in this transaction. Arenado isn’t going anywhere. Bet on it.
The splits are as easy to break down as the ending of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” You can run on the fact that he hasn’t collected the at-bats to justify his true presence away from Coors Field, or you can just look at an OPS that is quite near .800 away from home already. Every hitter experiences a high in Colorado that can’t be found elsewhere, but if you do need legit proof, look no further than Holliday.
He tore through the Cardinals’ opposition in the second half of 2009, but experienced a slight power outage in the following seasons. However, he was still a very productive ballplayer for the Cardinals. Arenado isn’t turning 34 next month. He still has quite a few years left in his prime to thrive in red and white.
The only issue I would present now is the shoulder injury he suffered last year. The Scott Rolen nightmares won’t allow a soul to sidestep this thought. But that’s why you have a physical before the ink hits paper. You bet DeWitt Jr. will want a flawless bill of health if he is signing up for quite a few more years of paying two players north of $60 million combined.
Maybe we just underestimated the front office down there. They went out and got their guy. They were close with Giancarlo Stanton and David Price. They struck gold, but weren’t done. Now they are equipped with corner infielders that every starting pitcher dreams of having.
How does Arenado affect the Cardinals? If I had to compare it to a nearby St. Louis Blue, I would say Ryan O’Reilly. Both are highly intelligent players who help their team in multiple facets of the game. You can debate his bat all day long, but Arenado has won a Gold Glove for every season he’s spent in the Majors. He will produce wins and save runs.
He’s not opting out. It’s over. The Cardinals are a different team now. There’s more to say, but we got time. St. Louis has returned to the center of the ring. 2021 may not be their moment, but World Series flag #12 is suddenly closer than ever.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports