The Texas Rangers have turned their search for an impact third baseman to the Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, who might be available via trade.
Entering the offseason, the Texas Rangers were focused on adding a third baseman, specifically one who could be an impact player with the glove and the bat. They swung for the fences in free agency with Anthony Rendon and whiffed when he signed with AL West rival, Los Angeles. Before we could even catch our breath from the Rendon whirlwind, Texas had already pulled out of the race for their assumed Plan B in Josh Donaldson. That meant opting for a flier signing or turning to the trade market. Kris Bryant is the name that seems most likely to be dealt but the Rangers are reportedly checking in with the Colorado Rockies about the availability of Nolan Arenado.
The Rangers and Arenado connection was one that was a bit of a foregone conclusion with really just his availability the question. Thursday though, we got confirmation that not only is Arenado a possibility to be dealt this offseason, Texas has already had some talks with Colorado about him. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic surveyed the likelihood of Arenado being traded and what factors must be taken into account in a piece ($) Thursday afternoon. Since it’s for subscribers we won’t delve into much of what he reported but I can note that Texas was mentioned as a club talking to the Rockies.
We got more info on the Rangers and Rockies talks via Twitter later Thursday evening when Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted that the Rangers are legitimately interested but that right now talks are just “due diligence” on Texas’ behalf.
The Rangers have already made one splash in the trade market this year, making a deal for Corey Kluber less than a week ago. In the deal, they parted with Delino DeShields and Emmanuel Clase meaning they retained their best prospects that would likely feature in a deal the magnitude of one for Arenado.
The California native has cemented himself as one of the premier players in Major League Baseball in his seven years in the big leagues. He just one his seventh Gold Glove (yes he’s won every Gold Glove since he debuted) at 3B, has four Silver Sluggers and five All-Star nods. At just 28, he already looks on a Hall of Fame trajectory and is still right in the middle of his prime. He’s also a player that the Rangers have been connected to before and one fans, myself included, have had their eyes on prior to his massive extension signed last offseason. He’s an offensive weapon, a defensive wizard and is at a perfect age to produce now and for years to come.
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In 2019, Arenado had yet another stellar season hitting .315 with a .962 OPS and 41 home runs in 155 games. His 5.9 fWAR was tied for fourth among third basemen and marked the fourth straight season he’s produced an fWAR of 5.0 or higher. He posted a 129 OPS+ which was his fifth consecutive season of a 124 OPS+ or higher. Year after year, Arenado consistently performs on a high level which no doubt factors into the Rangers interest. However, any move for him wouldn’t come without risk or cost.
Trading for a premium player in their prime is never cheap in terms of a return. Arenado won’t be any different. If Texas wants to snag Nolan Arenado from Colorado this season they have to be prepared to part with a few of their top prospects which can be painful. It’s especially painful considering as it stands now, Arenado can opt out of his current contract after the 2021 season. That makes him really a two year rental which, while diminishing his trade value for the Rockies, would also increase the risk, especially for a team like the Rangers who have their eye on being long-term contenders.
It’s been reported by a few outlets that perhaps a team trading for Arenado could get him to preemptively waive his opt out in exchange for another guaranteed year on his contract which is set to expire after the 2026 season. Still, that process is a tough one to predict much less actually work through for the teams involved. If Texas could work that out, that means they bypassed his no-trade clause he also possesses and would have an elite third baseman for the better part of the next decade.
This is a complicated deal to work out and it sounds like any talks are just checking in at this point but we can file this one away under the heading “Keep An Eye On”. Texas is almost certainly going to add a third baseman this offseason and Nolan Arenado could be at the top of their wishlist.