The Dodgers are reportedly once again interested in trading for Nolan Arenado.
Outside of a few tertiary moves, the Los Angeles Dodgers hardly need an earth-shattering offseason upgrade, but is team president Andrew Friedman ever satisfied? Is he ever not looking 2-3 years down the road? Ever wonder why this team has been a perennial contender for five years now without missing a beat?
According to the latest industry buzz, straight from MLB insider Jon Morosi, the Dodgers are once again interested in making a blockbuster trade for Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is believed to still be frustrated with his situation in Colorado and possesses an opt-out clause in his contract after the 2021 season.
But would the Rockies be willing to trade him within the division to the defending World Series champs? Well, there are a lot of things to consider.
Corey Seager 2021 Free Agency Conundrum
Let’s start from the Dodgers’ perspective. The two driving forces here are obviously Justin Turner’s likely departure in free agency and Corey Seager’s contract situation with the team. Seager is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and, as a client of Scott Boras, he’s likely to wait until free agency to get a new deal. Morosi notes that there’s been no mention of progress on an extension between the two sides.
If that’s true, then the Dodgers do need to protect themselves in some way. Arenado, who, assuming he opts into his deal in the event of a trade, has six years and $199 million remaining on his contract. That would give LA some long-term security at the hot corner and make up for the lost offensive production if Seager leaves in free agency.
And if Seager does leave, he’ll be competing on the open market with Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa and Javier Baez, so if the Dodgers want to spend big again, they’ll have their pick between five start shortstops after the 2021 season.
Problems With Dodgers-Rockies Nolan Arenado Trade Rumors
But there are a couple of issues here, with the most obvious being the Rockies’ willingness to trade one of the best players in the game to a division rival. What else? Would Arenado leave $200 million on the table heading into his age-31 season? Are the Dodgers banking on Seager walking or being out of their price range (is that even possible?) come next offseason?
If the Rockies do opt to engage in talks with the Dodgers, there’s no doubt they’d force LA to overpay. It’s an intra-division deal that will tip the scales heavily for the next half-decade. Friedman won’t get away with his usual fleecings here, at least we’d venture to guess that’d be the case.
And it terms of leverage, the Dodgers don’t have a whole lot. The Rockies could say, “Yeah, we’d love to see him leave $200 million on the table after what we’ve seen the league do over the last three years to delay/avoid paying players worthy of sizable contracts.” That opt-out clause is there, but it’s hard to imagine it’ll be exercised because we doubt Arenado will be guaranteed that much money or more in a second free agency go-round.
Perhaps the Dodgers don’t care about the asking price. They have a rock solid foundation and will see a ton of money come off the books after 2021, with only Seager and Clayton Kershaw being the paramount priorities. Everyone else will be gone and Friedman can make his shrewd, cost-effective upgrades to support and back up these big-money deals.
And don’t count out top prospect Gavin Lux. The Dodgers can give him more playing time in 2021 to get him ready to take over shortstop in 2022, which could be among the money-saving moves after potentially inheriting Arenado’s contract. If Seager decides to re-sign, then Lux stays at second base or becomes trade bait, and the Dodgers still have a World Series-contending roster either way.
The odds are in the Dodgers’ favor here, but there’s a lot more to consider than merely, “Would the Rockies trade Arenado to a division rival?”