Angry fans want answers about Nolan Arenado trade

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Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Note: Not surprisingly, the bulk of the emails submitted to this week’s mailbag had to do with the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Rockies to the Cardinals.

Understandably, most of the submissions were more opinions and rants than questions. I didn’t include many of those here, choosing instead those submissions that also posed good questions.

Hey Patrick, I am not sure if you remember but I posed a question to the mailbag last summer — during COVID-19 with no fans allowed — about whether Rockies fans will ever see Nolan Arenado play in person for the Rockies again. I’m saddened that my prediction came true.

I know you get a ton of Arenado questions, but now that this inevitable trade finally went down, I gotta tell you it’s beyond frustration. I am more dumbfounded than anything else. How could we not get more for Arenado? I mean we couldn’t even get the top prospect in the St. Louis farm system for the best third baseman in the game. I know it’s a moot point now, but I am wondering if you heard of any other teams offering any semblance of a better offer than what the Rockies settled for? Surely a future Hall of Famer and the best third baseman in the game could fetch better than what we got for him?

Can you file a complaint on behalf of all Rockies fans with the Better Business Bureau against the Rockies management because this is just totally horrific, incompetent business from top to bottom with this franchise! I mean literally paying another franchise $50 million of remaining salary to take on a player. If the front office was competent they would have called Nolan’s bluff on the opt out (he plays another year at about $35 million) and if he did opt out they would be released from the entire salary, but we would have had at least one more year of Nolan and overall saved $15 million. Yes we risk “losing him for nothing,” but that is basically what we got back in this current trade and losing an extra $51 million. Feels like the ownership are a bunch of con artists scamming the public by passing off what they call a major league product on the field.
— Douglas Hicks, Denver

Douglas, I ran your entire rant/question because it summed up many of the emails I’ve received.

I’m not sure I can give you a satisfying answer, other than to say that the Rockies messed up. Insightful, right?

It’s clear to me that the Rockies just wanted to be done with the Arenado “headache.” Dick Monfort went out of his way to make it clear that Arenado wanted out. He also said that the Rockies could get a better return now rather than waiting to trade Arenado later. I don’t think that’s true. At the summer trade deadline I think they might have gotten a better haul.

Although I thought a trade was inevitable, I was still shocked by the meager return. The deal smacks of desperation from the Rockies.

Here’s the thing. Just two years after signing Arenado to the eight-year, $260 million deal, the Rockies had become so certain of Arenado’s intention to leave via his opt-out clause, they felt they had to move him. I know many in the industry thought Colorado should have called Arenado’s bluff. They didn’t.

“To be quite honest, in all our conversations with him, he never said it was this or that or whatever,” owner Dick Monfort said. “We had the choice of waiting till the end of the year and letting him opt out … but the result was the same. So in dealing with this, we tried to find a way to get the greatest return possible.”

If the prospects we’re getting from St. Louis for Nolan Arenado are so good why didn’t Jeff Bridich draft them years ago? And why aren’t the Rockies getting the Cardinals’ top prospects?
— Bob Dewhirst, Denver

Bob, the first part of your argument is not really relevant. Comparing draft choices in baseball – unless they’re first-round picks – doesn’t get you anywhere.

As for the second part of your question, you make a valid point. In exchange for a player of Arenado’s value, the Rockies needed much more in return.

I also think that Monfort’s admission that Colorado blew it by not attempting to re-sign DJ LeMahieu illustrates the Rockies’ current dysfunction.

Hi Patrick, as I’ve stated here before, the Rox needed to trade Arenado and they did. Or did they? I know the Arenado/Bridich relationship was strained but this was a pretty nasty divorce. We all know Nolan wanted out but for Bridich to give him away is downright disgusting.

I know I have called for Arenado to be traded to remove the potential distraction between him and Bridich, but this trade should not have happened. There could have been better trade suitors out there. Thank you Arenado for what you did in purple, but your ego got the best of you, over your Rockies teammates. Bridich added fuel to Arenado’s desire to leave Colorado. Bridich was immature in his handling of the situation. Instead of trying to put an end to the playground skirmish, Bridich made matters worse. Not to mention our ownership is completely oblivious to winning baseball. When Monfort hears the phrase, “If you build it they will come,” he builds a rooftop deck instead of a winning baseball team. Both Monfort and Bridich do not understand baseball. Fire Jeff Bridich!
— Victor, Alameda, Calif.

Victor, you have been a frequent contributor to this mailbag, so thanks for that. As your reward, I’m running your opinions in full.

Does Bridich trading Arenado mean that ownership has now entrusted him with a full rebuild? Expectations couldn’t be any lower for 2021 without Arenado, so to me this screams that Bridich is safe. Hope and pray I’m wrong!
— Carson, Grand Junction

Carson, the Rockies insist that they are not in “full rebuild.” I wrote about his Tuesday. But I actually think the Rockies should go in that direction and trade Trevor Story and Jon Gray. As for Bridich overseeing the rebuild, Monfort’s comments on Tuesday seemed to indicate that he is going to keep Bridich as his GM.

(Regarding) the past two superstars the Rockies had — Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) and Arenado — in the eyes of the fans, the Rockies completely dropped the ball on this deal. That’s putting it nicely. From the players’ perspective, after seeing that, is there any incentive for a superstar to ever sign with the Rockies while under current ownership?
— Blake, Arvada

Blake, money still talks in baseball, so I can still imagine a star position player coming to Denver, for the right price. Colorado is a great place to live and Coors Field is a hitters’ paradise. However, given the current situation, I do think some players would balk at playing for the Rockies.

The other element to this is the Rockies apparent unwillingness to go after “superstar” players. Lost in the shuffle of the Arenado trade was what Monfort said Tuesday.

Here’s what my colleague, Kyle Newman, reported:

“The owner was blunt about where the Rockies stand in the major league pecking order, saying that the front office is doing “everything in our power to keep this team as competitive as possible” despite a lack of offseason spending on big-name free agents over the past two winters.

“We know that we’re not going to ever get out there and and go after (an ace like) Gerrit Cole or some of the really top-line free agents, because, you know, we’re in a grouping, a mid-market team where we just can’t take that risk,” Monfort said.

Last year, the Rockies ranked 12th in the majors in payroll at $67.8 million (a number reflecting the shortened 60-game season), per Spotrac. Currently, Colorado ranks just below the league average in 2021 payroll at $109.5 million.”

Defense or offense? The Rockies have lost two Gold Glove infielders and it seems there is no clear choice at catcher or first base. Do they go back to Blake Street Bombing, or is there hope for their pitching and defense? Any chance the Cards throw in Yadier Molina out of the goodness of their hearts? Thanks.
— Robert Emmerling, Parker

Bob, the answer to Moliona is no.

I don’t think they can win with just pitching and defense. They have to be able to take advantage of Coors Field and make it a place where opposing teams hate to come.

Fans deserve to know:  If not Arenado, then what? What are the short and long-term visions for this team? Is a National League title really something they (ownership, management) care about, or are they content with providing an affordable product with a great stadium, location, etc.? Thanks Patrick.
— Jimmy, Boulder

Jimmy, if you ask the Rockies, they do care about winning. I believe that they believe that. I just don’t think they have an identity or a game plan right now. They finally have some decent starting pitching but their offense is really down.

Sad to say, but for the foreseeable future, Coors Field on a summer night is the Rockies’ best drawing card for a lot of baseball fans.

The Rockies have squandered so much talent since 2015-16. But the ineptitude and/or apathy from management and ownership over the last few years — compounded by unapologetic arrogance — is what really gets me. It’s not a group I want to support right now.

With that in mind, have any suggestions for a fun, exciting, competitive team to follow this year?

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