Colorado's star third baseman has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this offseason, which is a consequence of the big contract extension he signed last winter plus his vocal frustrations with the Rockies' 91-loss campaign in 2019. The Cardinals, Rangers and Braves, among other teams, have been reported as having varying degrees of interest in Arenado. Now, though, it appears trade talks are off. Here's what Bridich had to say on the matter Monday, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:
"With the season coming up and spring training on the horizon, we are going to start focusing on that. We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected -- with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman.
"So we can put this to bed and collectively look forward to the upcoming season and work toward that."
Bridich acknowledges that trade discussions took place, but the Rockies apparently found those discussions wanting. As well, there's the matter of Arenado's full no-trade clause, which the team that agrees to a trade would need to persuade him to waive. While there's nothing ruling out Arenado talks at some point in the reasonably distant future, the Rockies, according to Bridich, will open the 2020 season with Arenado at the hot corner and anchoring the middle of the lineup.
For his part, Arenado sounds most displeased. Thomas Harding of MLB.com got Arenado's reaction to Bridich's comments:
"There's a lot of disrespect from people there that I don't want to be a part of," Arenado said in a text. "You can quote that."
In reaction to Bridich's announcement, Arenado elaborated.
"You ask what I thought of Jeff's quotes and I say I don't care what people say around there," Arenado said. "There is a lot of disrespect."
Asked what was said that he found particularly disrespectful, Arenado said, "No. I won't get into the details."
At this point, it's quite clear that Arenado wants out of Colorado, and after Bridich's comments, he may be looking to force the issue. All of this means the Rockies may be pressured into accepting a less than ideal return just to get the disgruntled superstar out of town and get out from under his remaining salary commitments.
Arenado's relationship with the team seemed to degrade during the 2019 season, as the Rockies slipped to fourth place after making the postseason in 2017 and 2018. Arenado expressed his frustrations in September, and shortly thereafter Bridich made a puzzling public comment about Arenado's discontent and his contract:
Rox GM Jeff Bridich said he is the one who pushed for a player opt-out in Nolan Arenado's $260 million contract, that Arenado didn't ask for it. And Bridich said he feels no pressure to prove a winning team as a way to keep Arenado.— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) October 1, 2019
The implication is that Bridich isn't particularly worried about surrounding Arenado with a contention-worthy roster, which raises the question of why you invest so much in a performer like Arenado if you're not going to try your best to win while he's still in his prime. It's also unusual for a GM to reveal details about negotiations in such a manner. In that context, Arenado's frustration is understandable.
Arenado's disappointment also stems from an inactive winter on Colorado's part despite signaling from Bridich that the team would increase payroll, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. The Rockies entered Tuesday having signed one player to a big-league deal all offseason: right-hander Jose Mujica, who has made seven appearances in Triple-A and has a career strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine -- the Rockies, in so many words, have not exactly moved heaven and hell to avoid another 91-loss season.
In any event, Arenado is going into his age-29 campaign in 2020. The Rockies lifer has a 122for his career and a mark of 130 over the past four seasons, all while being an elite defender at third and showing uncommon durability. Arenado has to his credit seven Gold Gloves in seven seasons and five straight top-10 finishes in the NL MVP balloting.
As for his aforementioned contract extension, he signed an eight-year, $260 million pact in February 2019, and he's still owed $234 million over seven years. Arenado also has an opt-out after the 2021 season, which might explain why some teams were hesitant to trade for him. Arenado's latest remarks, though, may make those interested teams see an opportunity to increase their leverage in trade talks, assuming Bridich -- in spite of his Monday comments -- is still open to having discussions. If nothing else, this situation is far from resolved despite the GM's efforts to communicate closure and finality.