Nolan Arenado could have broken the bank had he opted out of his contract. Shouldn't the team do more to thank him?
The numbers this offseason for talented infielders have been staggering: Seven years and $177 million for Dansby Swanson. Eleven years and $280 million for Xander Bogaerts. Eleven years and $300 million for Trea Turner. Six years and $200 million to Carlos Correa (with an extra four years and $70 million in vesting clauses.)
And, just last week, news broke that the Red Sox had locked up third baseman Rafael Devers to a ten-year contract worth $313.5 million.
Anyone still think Arenado wouldn’t have broken the bank this offseason had he chosen to exercise his final opt-out?
This is the same Nolan Arenado who finished third in MVP voting and took home his sixth consecutive Platinum Glove. The same Arenado who hit .293 with a .891 OPS last year while knocking in 30 homers and 103 RBIs. The same player Baseball Reference says was good for a 7.9 WAR, tops in the National League.
His contract now looks like a bargain compared to what's been handed out this offseason and Cardinals fans can breathe easy knowing they’ll see number 28 man the hot corner for the next five years.
Of course, that decision famously came after Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak met with Arenado privately in California. The two supposedly discussed the Cardinals’ plans this offseason and, whatever Mo told Nolan, it seemed to convince him that he wanted to be with the team through 2027 and, as we found out recently, for the rest of his career.
It’s fair to wonder if the Cardinals are living up to their end of the deal.
Signing Willson Contreras was a necessary move and the team deserves kudos for addressing the biggest question mark going into the offseason. But a Contreras signing isn’t enough to turn this team into one that strikes fear into the hearts of playoff opponents.
And it shouldn’t be enough for a team that has two superstars on the wrong side of 30. It’s time for the Cardinals to start moving more chips to the center of the table. For far too long, the offseason has been defined by one big move from the team, when a second or third would have made the Cardinals true contenders.
A left-handed bat for the lineup, preferably an outfielder, would be a welcome addition. Pitching help, preferably a starter who can be the ace of a team, is more urgent. It’s too late for a free agent impact addition – Justin Verlander isn’t walking through the clubhouse door. But a trade for a Pablo Lopez or a Shane Bieber? The team needs to make it happen.
Arenado’s decision to forego another crack at a massive contract let team officials sleep easier at night. The best way for the Cardinals to thank Arenado? Do more.
The team owes it to their star third baseman not to waste his prime. It’s the best kind of thanks the team can give.