The t’s are crossed. The i’s are dotted. The official site, which had not a hint of Nolan Arenado news over the weekend, has seven or eight links, almost the entire top section, devoted to the third baseman. As Han Solo said, “It’s true. All of it.”
Nolan Arenado is a St. Louis Cardinal.
We also finally know who is not a Cardinal any longer. The package turned out to be a different mix than reported over the weekend, with Austin Gomber, Elehuris Montero, Tony Locey, Mateo Gil, and Jake Sommers. We all know Gomber, who could have played a real significant role with the 2021 Cardinals as rotation insurance and bullpen help. Montero may be the best of the bunch if he puts it all together, but he’d been superseded in the organization by Nolan Gorman anyway and, playing the same position as the incoming star, was pretty expendable. Locey was a guy Kyle Reis was pretty high on when he was drafted and he might turn into a major leaguer, while Gil will probably get a lot of opportunities due to his talent and bloodline. Sommers…..folks, I’ll be honest, I had to ask Kyle who this one was, and I feel I keep at least a passing familiarity with the farm system.
Unsurprisingly, the Rockies are getting eviscerated for this deal. Granted, they probably would have borne a significant bit of criticism anyway given the nature of the deal, but some of the criticism feels more pointed and personal. There is an old saying, “never argue with a man that buys ink by the barrel.” Jeff Bridich once told the media that they couldn’t do what he did, that they’d never led anything, etc. and there is no doubt the media never forgot or forgave. Derrick Goold has consistently thrown barbs relating to this over the past few years and this move, coming out of Bridich’s inability to have a civil relationship with a star player, has allowed a lot of crow to be cooked up for the Rockies GM’s plate. (If you are going to say things like that, it would help if you did something like, I don’t know, win a division title before you did.)
Arenado was “introduced” by his new organization through the now-ubiquitous Zoom call. The coronavirus robbed us of the sight of Arenado putting on his jersey and cap (I really thought they might have overnighted a set to him so he’d have it for the call) but John Mozeliak made sure to have it hanging up in his office for all to see. Arenado seemed happy to be a Cardinal and ready to get to the field, sentiments he shares with most all fans now that this move has been made. He also said he plans to be in St. Louis for a long time and doesn’t expect to opt out. While it would be strange if he said anything else, I honestly believe him. He didn’t want to leave Colorado until they showed that they had no interest in putting something together around him. In St. Louis, that’s not usually a problem. We have criticized the front office for limited work the last couple of years, but even with that it was a contending team that made the playoffs Arenado seems to be focused on winning and every year in St. Louis there’s a chance for that.
Given what Arenado knows of the organization and the players that are here or have been here that he has connections with, I do wonder if Arenado limited his waiver of the no-trade clause to St. Louis. That would help explain a bit of the lopsided feel of the deal if the Rockies only had two options, keep their player or take the Cardinals’ offer. Well, I imagine given that he grew up a Dodgers fan he would have accepted LA, but apparently Rockies ownership wasn’t even going to entertain trading him within the division. That’s somewhat understandable, but as a Cardinal fan, I’m very glad they stuck to their guns in that regard!
John Mozeliak said in the Zoom call that “we might not be done” but it’s hard to imagine much more than tinkering around the edges. We know (or think we know) that Yadier Molina will be back as soon as the Caribbean Series is over this weekend. According to Rick Hummel, there’s not much organizational interest in bringing back Kolten Wong, but we could hold out some hope there I guess. So what does the 26-man roster look like today?
Catchers (2): Molina, Andrew Knizner
Infield (6): Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong, Matt Carpenter, Edmundo Sosa
Outfield (5): Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas
Starters (5): Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Kwang Hyun Kim, Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright
Bullpen (8): Jordan Hicks, Andrew Miller, Alex Reyes, John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, Tyler Webb
That’s a rough sketch. You also have names like Kodi Whitley and Ryan Helsley for bullpen roles and Austin Dean and Justin Williams in the outfield mix. It’s hard to see exactly how a free agent signing would fit into this mix. Obviously you would bump Sosa for Wong, but even signing a veteran arm that can start (something I’d be in favor of, because almost every arm in the rotation has questions) would probably require a waiver of some other player. I didn’t factor in options status above.
It’s possible that Mo could pull off some smaller trade, a couple of spare parts here for someone else spare part. After this weekend, I think we know better than to doubt what John Mozeliak could do. However, if this is the team that goes into the season, it’s a solid team. Hopefully, as fans return, that will allow for deadline moves should they be necessary. After all, the main motive for this trade might not have been to send out Yadi and Waino on a high note but it’s something to keep in mind anyway.
The excitement level for 2021 went up 300% with this move. Spring training starts in roughly two weeks. Are you ready for some Cardinal baseball? I know I am!