DENVER — Nolan wanted out.
For all the vitriol Rockies management received in recent days for not only trading away their great player Nolan Arenado, but throwing in $50 million to let him go in return for five players who are all strangers to nearly all Colorado households, what were Nolan’s bosses supposed to do?
> Above video: Bridich, Monfort press conference.
"If I would have my druthers, I would rather have Nolan Arenado," Rockies principal owner Dick Monfort said during an hour-long Zoom press conference he shared Tuesday morning with team general manager Jeff Bridich. "It was Nolan’s choice. He wanted to move on. I’ve speculated over the last year: 'Why?' And I’ve talked to Nolan a lot about it over the last year. But the fact remains, I think he felt it was time for him to try something else out."
Arenado held his own Zoom presser Tuesday through his new team, the St. Louis Cardinals. He did not directly address why he had asked to be traded from the Rockies a mere one season after he signed an eight-year, $260 million contract that computed to a whopping $32.5 million a year.
> Watch below: St. Louis Cardinals introduce Nolan Arenado.
"When you have a contract like mine and you’re losing, usually a lot of these contracts get moved and that’s kind of what happened now," Arenado said. "I signed there to be there for a long time and I wanted to win there. It didn’t work out. You move on. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m really excited to be here."
A confession of sorts did come as he spoke about that excitement of joining a Cards’ team that currently has compiled 13 consecutive winning seasons, and 20 of their past 21. Their success runs deeper. The Cards have won a National League-most 19 pennants and their 11 World Series titles are second in baseball history to the Yankees’ 27.
"I made this decision to hopefully go to a competitive team," said Arenado, an 8-time Gold Glove third baseman and five-time All Star. "A team that has great tradition and I believe St. Louis has that."
There have been reports Arenado’s problems with the Rockies centered around his soured relationship with Bridich.
"The relationship wasn’t always peaches and cream," Bridich said. "There were some bumps here and there and relationships change over time. Could I have done a better job in certain areas? You betcha."
Monfort said he doesn’t think it was one thing, but a culmination of several factors that led to Arenado’s discontent. It all stems from too much losing. The Rockies were in the postseason in 2017 and 2018 and Arenado signed his eight-year contract prior to 2019. The Rockies disintegrated to 20 games below .500 that year and started asking out. They finished 8 games below .500 in a shortened 60-game season in 2020 and Arenado’s desire to be traded “never wavered,’’ Monfort said.
"I’ve reached back to everything. I think that in ’17 and ’18, Nolan felt -- I would have felt if I was Nolan – that he didn’t get enough love from people who decide who should be MVP (when Arenado finished fourth and third in the voting)," Monfort added. "I don’t know. I really don’t know. And to be quite honest in all our conversations with him he never just said it was this or that, whatever."
Monfort said it would have been easier, and more cost-efficient, to let Arenado opt out of his contract after he played for $35 million this year.
"And that probably would have a popular decision or at least I could cleanse my hands of that," Monfort said. "But the result is the same. And so in dealing with this we tried to find a way to get the greatest return possible. There were many teams that we talked to. There were many deals that made no sense. And to be quite honest there were 10 times over the last two weeks where I didn’t think the St. Louis deal made any sense.
"But Jeff did an incredible job of pushing the talent. I know none of us know these guys really well especially since there was no minor league season last year. But our amateur scouts had seen these guys. These are talented guys. And at the end of the day do you want to take a draft pick at the end of the year if he would opt out. Or do you want to take your chance with five guys that sort of at least three or four of them fit in the type of caliber that you’d get from that draft choice."
Monfort’s remarkable forthrightness may have helped tame the angry mob into understanding why the great Arenado was traded. But no words could mend the sadness.
"I mentioned I’m a fan," Monfort said. "And I truly am. So I understand how they feel. To be quite honest I would probably feel the same way. And maybe I do even feel the same way. When we signed Nolan it was in an attempt to keep Nolan here for the rest of his career. But things do change."
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