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Nolan Arenado inks $26 million deal

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DENVER — The Rockies and third baseman Nolan Arenado avoided arbitration Thursday with a one-year deal, the team announced. A Major League source said the contract is worth $26 million, a new record for an arbitration-eligible player.

The contract, worth $3 million more than the deal the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reached last year, is seen as the possible building block toward the Rockies’ stated goal — a multiyear deal with Arenado, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2019 season.

DENVER — The Rockies and third baseman Nolan Arenado avoided arbitration Thursday with a one-year deal, the team announced. A Major League source said the contract is worth $26 million, a new record for an arbitration-eligible player.

The contract, worth $3 million more than the deal the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reached last year, is seen as the possible building block toward the Rockies’ stated goal — a multiyear deal with Arenado, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2019 season.

Arenado, who turns 28 on April 16, requested $30 million and the Rockies offered $24 million when filings were made earlier this month. The process assured Arenado of the Major League record. Here are the previous five record-setting deals for arbitration-eligible players:

• Donaldson, $23 million (January 2018)

Bryce Harper, Nationals, $21.63 million (May 2017, for 2018)

David Price, Tigers, $19.75 million (January 2015)

Max Scherzer, Tigers, $15.53 million (January 2014)

• Prince Fielder, Brewers, $15.5 million (January 2011)

But the Rockies’ sights go beyond a record. During the Winter Meetings in December, general manager Jeff Bridich said that if the Rockies go over $200 million in a contract for Arenado, it was possible that such a deal could fit in a payroll that the club plans to “continue to grow responsibly.”

Arenado has won National League Gold Glove Awards in each of his six seasons in the Majors, and in 2018 led the NL with 38 home runs. It was the third time he finished at the top of the league. In ’15, he and Harper tied for the league lead with 42, and in ’16 Arenado and Chris Carter tied for the NL lead with 41 homers.

The pattern of the Rockies’ offseason strategy has demonstrated how seriously staying in position to sign Arenado to a longer deal is a key part of their strategy going forward.

Believing they could fill holes from within, the Rockies watched two important free agents sign multiyear contracts with the Yankees — right-handed relief pitcher Adam Ottavino for three years and $27 million, and second baseman DJ LeMahieu for two years and $24 million.

Even before LeMahieu left, the Rockies knew they needed to improve an offense that lagged at times, even though Colorado made a second straight postseason appearance. But to control payroll, its only big-ticket signing was Daniel Murphy to play first base under a two-year, $24 million deal that deferred $3 million (half) of his 2021 option.

But the Rockies believe some of their improvement can come from within.

While longtime right fielder Carlos Gonzalez is testing free agency, the team is increasing the role of David Dahl, who has had a difficult injury history but has a .293/.341/.518 slash line and 23 homers over 140 games in 2016 and 2018. They’re trusting highly touted organizational products such as Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson (the Rockies’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline), Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 Rockies, No. 10 overall prospect) and Pat Valaika.

• Rodgers set to compete for starting 2B role

This offseason, the Rockies have put their money into the left side of the infield. Alongside Arenado is shortstop Trevor Story, who avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5 million contract and is under club control for two more years. 

The Rockies have one-year deals with all of their $2019 arbitration-eligible players — Arenado, Story, right-handed starting pitchers Chad Bettis ($3.3 million) and Jon Gray ($2.93 million), left-handed starter Tyler Anderson ($2.63 million), lefty reliever Chris Rusin ($1.69 million), righty reliver Scott Oberg ($1.3 million) and catcher Tony Wolters ($960,000).

The Rockies’ Opening Day payroll is expected to top $143 million once contracts for low service-time players or higher-salaried players who earn spots are figured. Spotrac placed last season’s total adjusted salaries at $143,968,544. Included in that figure was a long-ago settled $4 million payment to shortstop Jose Reyes, who was released in 2016.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.



Source : MLB

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