As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Colorado Rockies four-time Silver Slugger, four-time All-Star, and six-time Gold Glove third baseman, Nolan Arenado has signed a record-breaking eight year extension, worth $260 million. The deal is also reported to include a full no-trade clause and opt-out after three seasons (allowing Arenado the option of testing the free agent market in his year 30 season).
Arenado, 27, will now receive the highest annual salary (AAV) of any major league player at $32.5 million. The previous record, held by Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera, was $31 million. Arenado now becomes the first player in major league history to sign a contract worth upwards of $225 million and remain with the same team.
Notably, this deal between the Rockies and Arenado marks the second record-breaking deal the two have reached this offseason. On January 31, 2019, the Rockies announced they had agreed to a one-year $26 million contract extension with Arenado to avoid arbitration; the highest contract ever awarded to an arbitration-eligible player (the record previously held by Josh Donaldson for his $23 million agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018). The new deal will replace the previously agreed upon $26 million contract and keep Arenado in Colorado (potentially) through the 2026 season.
Arguably the best third baseman in baseball, Arenado has finished in the top 5 in MVP voting for three consecutive seasons, putting up an astounding .320 career batting average and .984 OPS at home at Coors Field (with a career .291/.346/.539 line). Arenado has averaged 40 home runs and 126 RBIs over the course of the last two years, and (in each of his last four seasons) had a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over 5.
Thanks, in large part, to Arenado’s production, Colorado has reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and has made a series of moves in an effort to continue that success. Prior to the beginning of last season, the Rockies and fellow superstar center fielder, Charlie Blackmon, agreed upon a six year, $108 million extension; keeping Blackmon in Colorado through 2023. More recently, the Rockies added some depth to their infield with the free agent acquisition of former Washington National’s second baseman, Daniel Murphy, on a two-year $24 million contract. Additionally, the Rockies have reason to be excited about their solid pitching roster behind Kyle Freeland and German Marquez, and rising superstar short stop in Trevor Story, balancing out the infield.
In comments made to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Arenado stated about his ball club, “It’s such a great place, I really enjoy the fact there’s a comfortability here. You know the coaches. You know the players. Some of my best friends are on this team. I grew up here in this organization, so it feels like home in a way. I’ve been here since the tide has changed, and that’s a really good feeling. I was part of that change.”
Arenado has never been shy about his aspirations of becoming one of “those guys that stays with one organization their whole career,” adding, “you want to win in a place where you’ve been all of your life.” Commenting directly on the deal, Arenado told Nightengale, “I have a lot of respect for [the Rockies]. No one’s playing any games…I’m willing to stay because of how they’ve communicated so well with me.”
One would be remiss to ignore the potential external motivating factors in this deal as well. When pressed about the lukewarm free agent market of this offseason, which still sees superstars Bryce Harper, Dallas Kuechel, and Craig Kimbrel without a team two weeks into spring training, Arenado stated “It’s crazy to think they’re still out there. But honestly, I wouldn’t be making my decision [based on] what I’m seeing. I base it on what I feel is right…. I want to be where I’m comfortable.”
Ultimately, the deal between the Rockies and Arenado is a win for both sides. The Rockies get to keep the face of their franchise for the foreseeable future, while Arenado gets to avoid the uncertainty of free agency and remain in the city he calls home.