St. Louis Cardinals: Looking at the Arenado deal from the other side

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 28: The sun sets over the stadium as the Boston Red Sox lead the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 28, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 28: The sun sets over the stadium as the Boston Red Sox lead the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 28, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals fans are jubilant about the recent trade for Nolan Arenado. However, fans in Colorado have a very different feeling.

If it were possible to travel back a week in time and tell the St. Louis Cardinals’ fanbase what was about to happen, there is little chance anyone would believe it.

After months of inactivity and quiet, the Cardinals exploded in a big way at the end of last week. If January was the new December, Cardinals fans got a very happy New Year. Within the span of 36 hours, Adam Wainwright signed back, news came out that Yadier Molina planned to re-sign, and John Mozeliak pulled off a blockbuster for Nolan Arenado, the team’s great white whale.

Thankfully for the Cardinals, it doesn’t seem like their trade with the Rockies will end the same as Moby Dick. By all accounts, the Cardinals didn’t give up a package that anyone on the Rockies’ side is thrilled with and they are receiving $51M back.

While Cardinals fans are rightfully thrilled to keep the team’s top prospects out of the deal, fans in Colorado are dejected. When the Cardinals traded for the Diamondbacks’ franchise icon Paul Goldschmidt, fans in Arizona were sad, but it seemed like they largely understood the deal because of the likelihood of Arizona re-signing him.

This time, the fans of the team losing the superstar are a bit more broken up about it. It is completely understandable.

Rox Pile is the Rockies’ FanSided site and they have captured the fanbase reaction well in the responses to these tweets.

Arenado has been elite since his debut, winning a Gold Glove each year he’s been in the league. In 2019, the Rockies extended Arenado on an eight-year contract. If you are a Rockies fan, that had to make you believe he would be in Colorado for the long haul.

Instead, fans had to watch the relationship between Arenado and the front office deteriorate until this move was finally made.

These reaction pieces from the Denver Post run the gambit of emotions. From anger to dejection, it’s not a fun time to be a Rockies fan. Cardinals fans shouldn’t blame them. For the majority of the offseason, nobody could’ve dreamed this move could happen.

Sure, the front office had been after Arenado for a few years, but this year felt like the least likely year for it to finally happen. At the beginning of the winter, it was clear that there was a unique opportunity in this market to jump on cheap talent and buy while everyone else was selling (see: Padres). While the Cardinals haven’t gone full Padre and won’t, they threw their gameplan to the wind at the chance to get a player like Arenado.

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This team lacked star power and now it’s tough to say that still. Sure, there are still weak points, but a whole lot of the team’s issues got better in one cheap swoop. The Cardinals capitalizing on the misfortunes of the Rockies could’ve been the other way around if the Cardinals had given out any huge contracts over the past few years.

Like the Cardinals, the Rockies are a team that relies heavily on attendance to flex their payroll muscle. Sadly for Colorado fans, the payroll muscle that Jeff Bridich and the front office have flexed in the past few years has rarely worked out. Cardinals fans think we have it bad with just Matt Carpenter and Fowler, but the Rockies have given up much more to much worse players in recent memory.

Now, with the pandemic hitting the finances hard, they are backed into a corner with this move.

Sometimes, in order to capitalize on a market, you have to get creative. That is exactly what John Mozeliak did here with the extension, opt-outs, and deferrals of Arenado’s contract. These details aren’t fully finalized, but when they are, it’s going to be one of the most complex trades the league has seen in a while.

For those who thought that Mo was just sipping coffee every day at the office, clearly that wasn’t the case. Mo deserves a ton of credit for getting this done, as does DeWitt Jr. for letting it happen. Both parties needed to be fully on board to get a deal like this done.

As happy as fans in St. Louis are, it’s tough to see another fanbase react to a trade in the way the Rockies’ base has in recent days. There are two sides to every trade and the players going back to Colorado could be fine, but there is no solace for a fanbase losing one of their favorites.

We’ll leave this with the thread from the Rockies’ official account and how they remembered Arenado’s time in Colorado.

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This week will likely bring press conferences from both teams explaining the move (including fans’ first glimpse of Arenado in a Cardinals uniform). It’ll be tough to watch Jeff Bridich talk his way out of this one for the Rockies. If the Rockies’ reaction is any indication, the Cardinals have traded for a fantastic player, teammate, and person.