By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
On Feb. 1, the Colorado Rockies made one of the most puzzling trades in recent history, as they traded away their star third baseman Nolan Arenado and over $50 million to the St. Louis Cardinals for what essentially amounts to nothing.
This trade highlights a recent trend in Major League Baseball of owners prioritizing saving money over winning, something that has the potential to harm a sport that is already struggling to remain popular.
Admittedly, Arenado had a disappointing 2020 season, at least by his standards. The five-time All-Star had career-lows in batting average (.253) and on-base percentage (.303). However, Arenado is only 29, and it is difficult to find a rhythm in an abbreviated season.
Even considering Arenado’s decline in 2020, the player haul the Rockies received from the Cardinals is disappointing and frankly insulting considering how good Arenado can be.
In return, the Rockies received no top tier prospects. Left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber projects to be the only player who could see action for the Rockies in the 2021 season, as the rest are project players whose talents are unrefined.
This begs the question of why Rockies owner Dick Monfort pulled the trigger on the trade. It was reported that Arenado, who has an opt-out clause on his contract after the 2021 season, was unhappy in Colorado and looking to move on, which could have served as a potential motivation for the club to trade him. However, this seems unlikely, as Arenado told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal “It would not have been a great decision” to opt-out of his deal, considering the financial state of baseball.
In 2019, the Rockies secured Arenado to an 8-year $260 million deal. At the end of the day, it seems like Monfort didn’t want to pay Arenado’s massive contract and decided to deal it to St. Louis. This move has put the Rockies in a tough position. The team now looks set up for failure and a path to contention for Colorado is currently hard to see.
This isn’t the first-time frugality has played a role in the MLB and it won’t be the last. Most notably, the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth, who had led the Red Sox to 3 championships, for $125,000 to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox wouldn’t win another World Series in 86 years.
I’m not saying the Rockies trade is as bad as the Red Sox’s blunder, but it is in the same spirit and is bad for the sport. No one enjoys watching bad teams, but it is especially bad when the team is there because they refused to spend the money to make their team competitive.
It may seem harsh, but owners like Monfort have no place in baseball or any sport for that matter. If you aren’t there to win, then you shouldn’t be there at all.