Posted on February 26, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
There are still some big names available in this year’s free agent class, but the biggest name in next year’s class is already off the table. One year before he was set to hit the open market, the Colorado Rockies have signed third baseman Nolan Arenado to a long-term extension. The Rockies and Arenado have agreed to an eight-year deal worth $260 million, keeping him at Coors Field through the 2026 season.
Arenado’s extension is actually months in the making. Knowing that free agency was fast approaching for their star third baseman, the Rockies have been engaging in talks with Arenado. When the club was finally willing to commit to eight years, things came together quickly. The deal sets a new MLB record for yearly average salary at $32.5 million, topping the $31 million per year on Miguel Cabrera’s 2014 extension with the Tigers. Arenado already set a record this year by agreeing to a $26 million deal in his final year of arbitration. Of course, this contract will replace that agreement.
In addition to earning $260 million over the next eight years, Arenado also has a full no-trade clause. The now 27-year old Arenado also has an opt-out clause following the 2021 season. If he wishes to do so, Arenado could hit the free agent market three seasons from now at the age of 30. However, based on the market the last couple of winters, he may not be able to do any better than the $260 million the Rockies are promising.
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Obviously, pledging a 9-figure contract and allocating over $30 million a season isn’t something that’s done lightly. That’s especially true for a team like the Rockies, who usually aren’t one of the bigger spending teams in baseball. However, Arenado is the face of the franchise, and it would have been risky for the Rockies to allow him to hit the open market next winter.
Also, if there’s any player in baseball who is worthy of such a contract and worth the risk, it might be Arenado. Since making his big league debut in 2013 at the age of 22, he’s grown into arguably the best third baseman in baseball, both offensively and defensively. Arenado has won the Gold Glove in all six of his big league seasons. He’s also been an all-star and Silver Slugger winner in each of the last four seasons. Arenado has led the National League in home runs in three of the last four years and has three consecutive seasons with an OPS over .900.
Perhaps more importantly, Arenado has helped lead the Rockies to the postseason the past two seasons. On the downside, Colorado is 0-4 in playoff games the last two years. But Arenado has been an invaluable part of getting the Rockies to the postseason both years. He’s also in the prime of his career, and if the Rockies expect to continue to compete for a spot in the playoffs in the years to come, they’re going to need Arenado leading the way.
At a time when teams are starting to stay away from long-term mega contracts, Arenado is the perfect exception. He’s consistently performed at a high level on both sides of the ball for several years and is still very much in his prime. For the Rockies, this is a lot of money to commit to one player. But considering how important Arenado is to the franchise, they needed to find a way to keep him. Only time will tell if this extension will work out. But for Colorado, Arenado is a player worth betting on.