Rockies owner optimistic they can sign Nolan Arenado long-term after record arbitration deal

Earlier this week the Colorado Rockies and superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado avoided arbitration with a one-year contract worth $26 million. That is the largest one-year arbitration contract in baseball history. Arenado filed $30 million with the league while the team countered with $24 million. The two sides settled just below the midpoint and avoided a hearing.

Arenado is scheduled to become a free agent next offseason and, following this week's one-year contract, Rockies owner Dick Monfort expressed optimism at their chances of signing Arenado long-term. MLB.com's Thomas Harding as the details:

"It was important to Nolan (to avoid a hearing), and as it turned out, it was important to me," Monfort said. "In these deals, everybody sort of guesses what the other side is going to do. Why this, that or whatever. It sort of put to rest on both sides that we want Nolan and Nolan wants to be with us. So that's probably half the battle.

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"I'm comfortable that we can get a number that we can get to," Monfort said. "There are a lot of things that have to go through Nolan's mind, too. But I'm confident that after we met, Nolan wants this to happen as much as we do."

The Rockies do have a history of paying big to keep their own stars. They gave Todd Helton a nine-year, $141.5 million contract back in 2001. Troy Tulowitzki received a seven-year deal worth $134 million in 2010. Just last year the Rockies gave Charlie Blackmon a six-year contract worth $108 million. The Rockies aren't shy about paying their own.

Arenado and his agent, Joel Wolfe, figure to wait on an extension until Manny Machado signs and sets the market for an elite infielder. Arenado is a year older than Machado -- that means when Arenado hits free agency next winter, he'll be two years older than Machado is right now -- and there are the inevitable Coors Field questions, but using Machado's deal as a benchmark is not unreasonable.

Historically, players who sign an extension one year before free agency receive free agent dollars. There's no discount. Arenado could seek a contract on par with Machado's upcoming deal, lock in that guaranteed payday, and avoid the hassle of free agency next winter. These days going out in free agency is a drag, even for tippy top players such as Machado and Bryce Harper.

Reports indicate the Yankees are planning to pursue Arenado next offseason, so much so that they're willing to pass on signing Machado this offseason. You can be sure the Rockies don't want to have to outbid the Yankees to keep Arenado. Even with no discount, signing Arenado now avoids a bidding war and means Colorado has one less thing to worry about going forward.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies
Will the Rockies be able to sign Nolan Arenado to a long-term deal before free agency? USATSI

For what it's worth, Arenado is a career .320/.374/.609 hitter at Coors Field and a career .263/.318/.469 hitter on the road. In free agency, teams would undoubtedly use those home/road splits against him in an effort to get a discount. I think Arenado would be a legitimate 25-plus homer bat with all-world defense for another few years no matter where he plays. That's awfully valuable.

Arenado, 28 in April, hit .297/.374/.561 (130 OPS+) with a league-leading 38 homers in 156 games last season. It was the third time in the last four years he led the National League in homers. Arenado is fourth among all players in WAR since 2015, even after adjusting for Coors Field.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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