Nolan Arenado Trade Analysis

After a year of trying to acquire Nolan Arenado, the St. Louis Cardinals have finally traded for the star third baseman


Blake Robinson

Now that the Cardinals have finally obtained Nolan Arenado, they have a star third baseman that is going to help them out significantly on both offense and defense.

Blake Robinson, Reporter

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired trade target Nolan Arenado in the 2020-2021 MLB offseason, finally finalizing a deal to obtain the Gold Glove third baseman. The Colorado Rockies, the team that traded Arenado, received relief pitcher Austin Gomber and four minor league prospects in the trade. On top of everything, the Rockies also gave the Cardinals $51 million in order to pay for some of Arenado’s contract. The trade was announced on Jan. 29, but wasn’t confirmed until Feb. 2, and with the trade finalized, we can take a look at what each team came away with from this deal.

The St. Louis Cardinals have been trying to acquire Arenado since last season, but they haven’t been able to come to an agreement on the trade until now. Now that they’ve finally obtained Arenado, they have a star third baseman that is going to help them out significantly on both offense and defense. Arenado is an eight-time Gold Glove winner, a four-time Platinum Glove winner and a four-time Silver Slugger. His accolades clearly back up his hype.

Although his 2020 season wasn’t his best offensively, the circumstances of a shortened season could have very well impacted his play offensively, and his defense was still elite enough to win him a Gold Glove.

Arenado’s addition to the Cardinals will have a major impact for the team on both sides of the ball. On offense, Arenado provides a powerful bat that is projected to slash .273/.344/.505, which is the best-projected slashline out of anyone on the Cardinals 2021 roster. Many make the argument that Arenado’s hitting statistics are boosted due to the fact that he played half of his games every season in Coors Field, which is known as a hitter’s park due to the fact that the field is only one mile above sea level, meaning there’s less resistance fighting the ball mid-flight. However, if you look at Arenado’s career stats on the road, he’s slashing .263/.322/.471; it’s not significantly worse than his overall numbers, and these numbers are all still above the league average. While he might not exactly be the same hitter that he was while on the Rockies, his offensive numbers are still going to be very serviceable to the Cardinals.

The defensive side of the ball is where Arenado finds his true success. As previously mentioned, Arenado has won eight Gold Gloves, the award given to the best defensive player at a specific position, and four Platinum Gloves, the award given to the best defensive player in the entire MLB. Apart from his awards, his defensive statistics are better than anyone else’s in the entire league. He led the league in 2020 in defensive runs saved, 15, and ultimate zone rating, 8.5, the two main advanced defensive statistics used in baseball. For the 2020 MLB season, Fangraphs had the Cardinals at the top of the defensive runs saved list with 33, with just one of those points coming from third baseman. If you remove those points and replace them with Arenado’s points, along with removing second baseman Kolten Wong’s 6 points due to him leaving in free agency, it brings the Cardinals’ defensive runs saved to 41. The Cardinals were at about 0.69 defensive runs saved per game in the 2020 season, and if you put those numbers into the perspective of a full season, it would bring them to about 112 defensive runs saved.

This alone would easily make them not only the best defensive team in the MLB, but one of the best defensive teams of all time.

While Arenado may be the major part of the trade, it is also important to discuss who the Rockies acquired for their star third basemen. In return for Arenado, the Rockies received left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber, infielder Elehuris Montero, infielder Mateo Gil, right-handed pitcher Tony Locey, and right-handed pitcher Jake Sommers. Austin Gomber will likely be the only player in this deal to have an immediate impact on the Rockies, as he’s the only one out of the five players to have played at the major league level. The rest, meanwhile, will be apart of the Rockies’ minor league system, looking to grow into future stars.

If you look at the Cardinals’ Top 30 Prospects list, Elehuris Montero was ranked 8, Tony Locey was ranked 19, and Mateo Gil was ranked 22 and Jake Sommers was not ranked. Considering the Rockies traded away the best player on their roster while he’s in prime, you’d think that the Rockies would have received much higher rated prospects than they did. However, the Rockies walk away from the deal with just three players ranked in the top 30 of the Cardinals’ top prospects list.

Even if these players do grow to be stars one day, it doesn’t seem like the Rockies got even close to matching the value that Arenado brings in the trade. Without Arenado, the Rockies are now only left with star shortstop Trevor Story, but if the team fails to perform well without Arenado, it wouldn’t be surprising if Story requested a trade and forced the Rockies into full-on rebuild mode.

I believe it is very apparent that the Cardinals came away from this trade as the winner. They managed to acquire one of the best third basemen in the MLB without giving up a prospect higher than 8, and they only traded away one MLB ready player, and that MLB ready player was only a relief pitcher. The Cardinals addition of Arenado, along with the fact that the division they play in, the National League Central, is likely the weakest in the MLB, the Cardinals are destined for the playoffs in 2021, hoping to win a World Series a decade after winning their last one. The Rockies, meanwhile, just lost their star third baseman without getting much in return, meaning they’re likely to end up as one of the worst teams in the MLB in 2021.

The 2021 season will be an interesting one for both teams involved in the trade. The Cardinals went from an above average team to a potential World Series contender with the addition of one of the best third baseman in the league, while the Rockies will have to adjust to not having Arenado in their lineup for the first time since 2012. It should also be interesting to see how Arenado performs on his new team, as it’s the only other team he’s played for in the MLB other than the Rockies.

If Arenado performs the way that he has in previous seasons, the Cardinals are going to have a very good chance of not only making a run in the playoffs, but a chance of winning the World Series when it’s finished.