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The blockbuster deal that’s rocked the Rockies is done.
The complicated trade that sent star third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals became official Monday, ending Arenado’s tenure in Colorado after eight golden seasons.
News that a deal was getting close broke on Friday evening but several issues had to be resolved before the trade became official. Those issues were hammered out Monday, sending the five-time all-star slugger to St. Louis.
Arenado, 29, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and one of the greatest players in Rockies history, joins a Cardinals franchise that is among the most storied in major league history.
One of the centerpieces of the deal is the Rockies’ agreement to commit around $50 million to St. Louis to help cover a portion of the six years and $199 million remaining on Arenado’s contract, according to a report in The Athletic. With the Rockies paying down a portion of Arenado’s future salary, the Cardinals will pay him about $25 million a year.
By trading away its marquee player, Colorado will save about $150 million over the next six years. Rockies’ officials have not yet commented on the trade but are expected to address it as soon as Tuesday.
Colorado will receive several players in the deal, but no big names. Left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber is expected to be one of the players coming to Colorado, along with three or four prospects.
The deal required major changes to Arenado’s contract, including adding an additional year guaranteed at $15 million in exchange for Arenado agreeing to defer money over the length of his deal with St. Louis.
Arenado, who has an opt-out clause after 2021, now gets an additional opt-out after the 2022 season. The no-trade clause, which was waived to complete the trade, has been reinstated, according to a source.
Because of the amount of money involved, money Arenado deferred, and the rewriting of opt-out clauses, the deal required approval from the commissioners’ office and the MLB Player’s Association.
Adding Arenado makes the Cardinals — who desperately need power in their lineup — the favorite in the National League Central. The Rockies, meanwhile, are in a rebuilding mode and are not considered contenders in the tough NL West where the talented Dodgers and Padres figure to compete for the title.
Before the 2019 season, Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies.
“I love this group, and that’s why I committed here,” Arenado said at the time. “I’m comfortable here and it feels right with this young group we have. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and I really believe we can win. I wouldn’t make this decision if I didn’t believe that. I’m here for the long haul.”
But the relationship between Arenado and the front office quickly soured. After going to the playoffs in 2017-18, the Rockies slumped to a 71-91 record in 2019 and Arenado grew disillusioned, believing the club was not committed to building a winner. His relationship with general manager Jeff Bridich grew contentious last winter.