Earlier this month it was reported that the Rockies wanted to “engage” the Mets in talks for Nolan Arenado. This is a strange new world we have to navigate where the organization to approach when a team wants to get rid of an expensive contract is the Mets, but let’s take a look at it from both sides and see why it makes sense.
From the Rockies perspective they are acting, like, well, the Mets. Not the current Mets, mind you, but the pre-Cohen Mets. Nolan Arenado is signed long term and owed nearly $200 million over the next six seasons. He does have an opt out after 2021 but there is no guarantee he exercises it given the current state of the game. Owners across baseball are claiming losses from the 2020 season but even after the 2019 season, the Rockies were lamenting financial inflexibility and were very quiet that offseason despite a down year.
Those statements were the beginning of a fractured relationship between the star third baseman and the team. The trade rumors started and Arenado spoke openly about how disappointed he was in Colorado GM Jeff Bridich. He went so far as to say he felt disrespected by the general manager. After he signed his contract, Arenado was promised that they would build around him and the club did the exact opposite. His displeasure could be traced even farther back to 2018 when he said he was tired of losing and signed his contract based on the fact the team would be competitive in the near future.
Ultimately nothing came of the trade rumors, but by all accounts 2020 was a disappointing season for the 29-year-old. He hit just .253/.303/.434 with a wRC+ of 76. However, he was battling a shoulder injury for most of the year which might have played a role in the subpar numbers.
Now once again the trade rumors are swirling, and it is up to the Mets to take advantage of a desperate Rockies team. Sandy Alderson has mentioned being hesitant to trade from their depleted farm system, but should the Mets take on the entirety of the contract they could easily trade from their Major League roster. They could start with either J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, or Amed Rosario without depleting the roster too much. Or, if they sign Springer, Brandon Nimmo could become expendable and be sent to the team he grew up rooting for as a child.
Alderson also mentioned having “depth” at third base and mentioned Davis and Jeff McNeil specifically. Sure, they could play third base, but they are not third basemen. Luis Rojas also mentioned moving Rosario to third but none of these options are ideal for a team that wants to revamp its defense. On the flip side, Arenado is one of the best, if not the best, third baseman of his generation. He is a wizard at the hot corner and owns a Gold Glove for each year that he has been in the league. While defensive metrics aren’t perfect, he had a 15 DRS in the shortened 2020 season with a bad shoulder. Comparatively he had a 18 DRS in 2019 for the full season.
While the defense is unquestioned, there is always the fear of the “Coors effect” when trading for players from Colorado. However, most recently D.J. LeMahieu had no issues when leaving the Rockies for the Yankees, but perhaps he isn’t the best example since Yankee Stadium is known for being hitter friendly.
On the surface Arenado seems to suffer when hitting away from Coors. He is a lifetime .322/.376/.609 hitter at home with a OPS of .985 while on the road he hit .263/.322/.471 with a OPS of .793 for his career on the road. While there is enough of a difference to give you pause, Mike Petriello of MLB.com argues there is a reason for the numbers on the road. What it boils down to is that Coors can actually make hitters worse on the road because pitches don’t move like they do in Colorado. Should Arenado leave Colorado and become a better hitter on the road, while getting worse at home it still adds up to a very good player. He did not finish in the top five in MVP balloting for three years in a row for simply taking advantage of Coors. He is a fantastic ballplayer and a change of scenery could rejuvenate the star, since there clearly has been a falling out with his current team.
The Mets have had an issue at third ever since David Wright could no longer man the hot corner every day. Now is the time to fix that hole when the most gifted third baseman in the league is on the market and they are in a position to take advantage.