The Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals staged simultaneous information conferences on Tuesday, with starkly totally different tones.
The Cardinals occasion was buoyant and celebratory because the group was welcoming Nolan Arenado, the elite third baseman that they had simply acquired in a commerce with Colorado.
However in a extra subdued video chat from Denver, Rockies proprietor Dick Monfort and Basic Supervisor Jeff Bridich had been on their heels as they answered pointed questions from the information media whereas making an attempt to clarify why they unloaded their finest participant for 5 midlevel prospects — and despatched alongside an estimated $50 million to St. Louis, as well.
“We’re going to face some points with our followers, and we’ll take care of it,” Monfort stated. He added, “Hopefully they are going to perceive in time.”
However followers could by no means comprehend how the Rockies may ship the group’s finest participant — and fairly a bit of cash — to the Cardinals for a handful of unproven expertise.
On the floor, the commerce appeared like a basic wage dump. There may be all the time a group regretting an enormous contract and one other one keen to reap the benefits of that change of coronary heart. It’s how the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, and Alex Rodriguez earlier than him.
However Arenado’s case is uncommon, partially as a result of he requested for the commerce final spring, a bit over a 12 months after he had agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with Colorado. However the Rockies’ on-field fortunes had plummeted because the extension was signed, and Arenado’s dedication to the membership wavered. Alongside the way in which, his relationship with Bridich soured.
“The connection wasn’t all the time peaches and cream,” Bridich stated. “There have been bumps right here and there. However relationships change over time. Might I’ve carried out a greater job in sure areas? You betcha. Completely.”
Arenado, alternatively, was beaming on Tuesday, saying he was ecstatic to be a Cardinal and that he harbored no ill-will towards the Rockies. He portrayed the commerce as customary working process for a group that has endured two shedding seasons and was in search of payroll aid.
“The previous few years have been powerful,” he stated. “I do know lots of people are in all probability bothered by this, however I’m not the primary contract to get moved after couple of years. It occurs quite a bit on this sport.”
The commerce induced an uproar in Colorado, the place Arenado is extraordinarily fashionable, and for good cause. A five-time All Star with eight Gold Glove awards, he’d hit at the very least 37 dwelling runs in every of the 5 full seasons earlier than the shortened 2020 season. For nearly as good as he’s at hitting, Arenado is even higher with the glove, with many contemplating him one of the best defensive third baseman within the sport.
Outraged Rockies followers have taken to Twitter and written letters to the Denver Publish accusing the group of cynically slashing payroll to affix the ranks of golf equipment just like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays on the backside of the payroll ladder. They’ve additionally been accused of bungling the state of affairs with Arenado, permitting the participant’s testy relationship with Bridich to power the difficulty.
“If we wish to move blame, you may blame me,” Bridich stated. “It’s the job of the G.M. to construct a group that competes and wins as a lot as humanly attainable. However I consider the phrase human is a crucial one.”
However Monfort added that the Rockies had little room to maneuver as a result of Arenado requested a commerce 9 months in the past. When Arenado was knowledgeable throughout his introductory information convention that Monfort had revealed the request to reporters, he didn’t dispute it. He stated he was simply grateful that Colorado had dealt him.
“My relationship with the Rockies is simply advantageous,” he stated. “I’m not going to speak concerning the dangerous issues. There are not any dangerous issues. It was nice. I had a good time in Colorado. I cherished it there. I did one of the best I may there. It simply didn’t work out.”
With the commerce request hanging over them, Monfort stated, the Rockies had little alternative however to make a transfer. Arenado’s contract included an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, and the Rockies assumed that if Arenado wished to be traded, he would take the chance to go away through the opt-out at season’s finish.
Monfort outlined the 2 decisions: They might preserve Arenado for 2021, paying him $35 million after which accumulate a compensation draft choose if he opted out and signed with one other group. Or they might commerce him now, getting extra gamers again.
In alternate for the face of their franchise, the Rockies acquired Austin Gomber, a left-handed pitcher; Tony Locey and Jake Sommers, each right-handers; third baseman Elehuris Montero and infielder Mateo Gil. Solely Gomber has pitched within the main leagues.
“We really feel comparatively comfy that 4 or 5 of these gamers would have been the kind of man that we would have gotten with that one choose,” Monfort stated.
There might need been different choices, too. Colorado may have waited and traded Arenado earlier than the July 31 commerce deadline, maybe drawing curiosity from groups within the pennant race, thus driving up the worth. Arenado’s opt-out additionally made it tougher for the Rockies to get a prime prospect in return, as a result of he might need grow to be a free agent after just one season. Or, in a riskier film, they might have added gamers in hopes of constructing it extra interesting for Arenado to remain.
On the time Arenado signed the deal, Colorado was coming off two straight postseason appearances. Monfort traced the decline of the group to when the Rockies allowed the Yankees to signal D.J. LeMahieu away from them after the 2018 season.
The proprietor expressed remorse over that call however stated he had not entertained the thought of firing Bridich. Another person? Maybe.
“No, I’ve not thought of firing Jeff,” Monfort stated. “I’ve thought of firing myself.”