2. Nolan Arenado trade (2021)
After Matt Carpenter had declined to a level that relegated him to a bench role, the Cardinals were looking for a starting third baseman. They hit the jackpot when they pried Nolan Arenado away from the Colorado Rockies for Austin Gomber, Elehuris Montero, Mateo Gil, Tony Locey, Jake Sommers, and about $51 million.
The Cardinals’ trades for Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado can be up for debate on which was better for the team, but Arenado edges out Goldschmidt for me because of the defense Arenado provides at a premium position and the $51 million the Rockies coughed up in addition to Arenado.
Arenado brought the stunning defense he had been lauded for over to the Cardinals and has since added two more Gold Glove Awards to his mantel while brandishing the birds on the bat. Offensively, Arenado has hit .272 with 73 home runs with the Cardinals, and he recently picked up his 1,000th career RBI. In 2022, he finished third in MVP voting.
The players traded for Arenado have mostly failed to pan out. Gomber has a 5.31 ERA for the Rockies; Montero is hitting .255 as a serviceable regular; and Locey, Sommers, and Gil are struggling in the minor leagues.
Arenado exercised his player option in 2022, choosing to remain with the Cardinals for the long haul. He has proclaimed his love for playing in St. Louis, and although like Goldschmidt, he has yet to see postseason success, he will be a key cog in guiding the Cardinals toward their next title.