Nolan Arenado will not exercise his opt-out clause, making it official that he will return to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022.
The question has surrounded the St. Louis Cardinals all season. Will Nolan Arenado exercise his opt-out clause after the 2021 season?
Even as the Cardinals floundered, it has always seemed unlikely. He wanted to come to St. Louis in the offseason. He wanted to play with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. The organization’s winning history and what came with being in a Cardinals uniform is everything that he desired. But when they went on a tear, winning 17 consecutive games and securing a National League wild card spot, it made an already easy decision that much easier.
On Wednesday, Arenado made it official, telling Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he will not exercise his opt-out clause and will return to the Cardinals in 2022. “I’m not opting out,” Arenado said. “We can put that out there. I will not be opting out. I will be coming back. That was always the plan. I’m absolutely coming back. I feel like this year has been special in a lot of senses.”
Arenado, TK, will make $35 million next season ($6 million deferred). It’s a significant development for the Cardinals — an expected one, but something that makes the organization breathe a little easier — and also makes an already lopsided deal look that much more favorable for St. Louis. For (at least) two seasons of Arenado, the Cardinals gave up Austin Gomber, Elehuris Montero, Tony Locey, Mateo Gil and Jake Sommers.
Yes, Arenado has been vocal about his production this season, but he has still been very good. He is hitting .256/.313/.499 with 34 home runs in 642 plate appearances, once again ranking as one of the game’s best defensive third baseman and positioning himself to win a ninth Gold Glove award. His play has put the Cardinals in postseason position and as long as he’s in St. Louis, they should be there year after year.
The opt-out question is not going away anytime soon, however, as Arenado has an additional opt-out clause after the 2022 season — and there’s a much more realistic chance he exercises it then. For now, however, he will be with the Cardinals. He’s happy in St. Louis. But to ensure that he stays long-term, they have to continue to win.
With Arenado and Goldschmidt leading the lineup, and Tyler O’Neill emerging as a star, that shouldn’t be too difficult. But the front office should consider bringing in upgrades throughout the roster to ensure they can keep their star third baseman happy.