Nolan Arenado is staying with the Rockies instead of testing free agency next offseason. The two sides finalized an eight-year contract extension worth $260 million, and on Wednesday they made it official:
The deal will reportedly include an opt-out clause after three years, and the deal starts with this season (Arenado was originally going to make $26 million, which is what he got in the arbitration process).
Here are six things to know about Arenado's massive new contract:
Rockies keep their franchise player
Arenado will turn 28 years old in April and is the face of the Rockies, a franchise that has secured an NL wild card spot each of the last two seasons. The four-time All-Star has won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at third base in each of the last four seasons and has actually won the Gold Glove during all six of his MLB years. He's led the NL in home runs three of the last four seasons and RBI twice. Last season, Arenado hit .297/.374/.561 (133 OPS+) with 5.6 WAR. He's improved on his MVP finishes four years running, finishing eighth, fifth, fourth and third, respectively.
It's not just the performance with Arenado, it's the durability, too. He's averaged 158 games played over the last four seasons. Locking him up instead of losing him in free agency next offseason is definitely a win for the Rockies.
Should Arenado continue his level of play and free agency become a bit easier, perhaps he opts out after the third year. I'd wager he stays put, though, with this deal going through 2026, Arenado's age-35 season. It's a decent bet he goes the way of Todd Helton and is a Rockie for life.
Arenado sets a record, sort of
Arenado was set to hit free agency after the 2019 season, but instead he's got a contract that looks to be paying him an average annual value of $32.5 million. That is, yes, a higher AAV than Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million with the Padres. Speaking of which, Arenado seeing free agency these past two offseasons -- along with his affinity for Colorado -- was surely part of the calculus here.
The $32.5 million AAV trails only Zack Greinke's $34.4 million, but makes Arenado's salary the highest ever -- again, going by average annual value -- among position players, topping Miguel Cabrera's $31 million. Only Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325M), Machado and Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $275 million) have signed bigger deals than this one. Expect Bryce Harper to top it, but this is still rarefied air.
Next year's free agent class loses Arenado
With Arenado off the board, the best free agent position players next offseason are Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rendon. In the case of Rendon, the bar has been set for what an extension could look like for an elite third baseman. Teams possibly waiting on Arenado lost out, but that's good news for Rendon as well.
After Goldschmidt and Rendon, some other big free agent names for next offseason include Jose Abreu, Scooter Gennett, Xander Bogaerts, Marcell Ozuna, Nick Castellanos, Yasiel Puig, Khris Davis, Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander and Dellin Betances.
The wild West
This offseason, the Dodgers have signed Clayton Kershaw to an extension and grabbed A.J. Pollock in free agency. They are still the NL West favorites and probably overwhelmingly so. The Padres added Machado on a huge deal and have reportedly been involved in talks with Bryce Harper. The Giants have also been connected to Harper and now the Dodgers are as well. The Rockies now get the Arenado deal done. Arguably the most exciting division this offseason has been the NL West.
Speaking of Harper ...
From where I sit, things have gotten pretty clear when it comes to Harper's free agency. A 10-year, $326 million deal very conveniently checks both boxes for Harper and his agent, Scott Boras.
- It sets the record for a contract, topping Stanton's by a million bucks.
- It tops Arenado's average annual value record, $32.6 million to $32.5 million.
Rockies records in play
Let's at least end this talking about the main subject, shall we? Eight more seasons with the Rockies means Arenado's likely to become possibly the top player in franchise history. Some of the club records likely on the board are as follows.
- Todd Helton is the franchise leader in WAR at 61.2. Arenado's at 33.1. He's averaged 6.3 in his last four seasons.
- Helton has 369 career homers and is the leader. Arenado has 186. He's averaging 40 a season in his prime.
- Helton -- who leads in almost everything -- has 1,406 RBI. Arenado is at 616 while averaging 126 a season these last four.
Several more, like hits, runs scored, total bases and extra-base hits might also be in play as well. With this deal, Arenado now has a shot to challenge Helton as the biggest Rockies legend of all time.