Could Cardinals' disaster lead to this Nolan Arenado-Dodgers trade package?

Los Angeles Dodgers v St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers v St. Louis Cardinals / Scott Kane/GettyImages

One fan's trash is another fan's treasure, and after years of yearning, the Los Angeles Dodgers might just have one more shot to pluck Nolan Arenado from the Cardinals' smoldering wreckage. Yes, even after he opted in and seemingly killed the dream this offseason.

Because, when that happened (at a significant bargain, compared to deals across the league like the Manny Machado contract), no one anticipated St. Louis, overflowing with talent, to crater as quickly as they have. Arenado, currently 32 years old, should be the cornerstone of a World Series contender in his prime. Unfortunately, with a rotation made of No. 4s and an offense that seemingly always ends up confoundingly out of sync, what he is is a talented, borderline-superstar player on a tradeable contract.

If St. Louis' fans are trying to trade Paul Goldschmidt midseason, it's only a matter of time before they entertain shipping Arenado off in exchange for young arms, too, and removing all pretense of contending before 2025. It doesn't matter how weak the division is. If you win it, only to go nowhere, you haven't gotten all that much.

Arenado declined his opt-out again this offseason, meaning he entered 2023 on a five-year, $89 million deal that pays him through his age-36 season in 2027. The '27 campaign is the cheapest year, at $15 million, but they're all reasonable. That means, if the Cardinals blow things up, there's nothing stopping the Dodgers from adding Arenado while still going all in on Shohei Ohtani next offseason (except Max Muncy's presence, which ... well ... enjoy second base?).

Arenado opting into his contract this offseason meant he really, truly wanted to be a St. Louis Cardinal. He must've been well aware of the financial implications of keeping himself off the open market. Once upon a time, though, his desire to be a Dodger reportedly overwhelmed LA's shortstop Corey Seager, and the Rockies refused to engage their division rivals in any potential trade for fear of awkwardness. If the Cards' machine has become a mess, there's one landing spot softer than any other for the Newport Beach native (don't say "Ohtani's replacement in Anaheim," don't say "Ohtani's replacement in Anaheim"...).

Dodgers-Nolan Arenado Trade Rumors...commence! Again!

What would it take for the Dodgers to lure Arenado away, in a world where the Cardinals acknowledge that this season's 70-game trend isn't reversing itself anytime soon? Pitching. Pitching. Pitching.

Luckily, the Dodgers have that in droves.

The Dodgers will offer to take on most, if not all, of Arenado's contract in order to lessen the prospect package they send to St. Louis, but that's not going to get them off the hook entirely. Expect this to be a four-for-one deal, and it ... goes without saying that you'd love to keep Bobby Miller. In reality, either Miller or top prospect Diego Cartaya will probably be leading the package, which might be fleshed out by mid-tier pitching prospects like Nick Nastrini, River Ryan and Emmet Sheehan. Yeah. Two of those guys.

Perhaps there's even a version of the deal where the Dodgers send blocked top prospect Michael Busch, still young (and electric) arm Dustin May, and two of Nastrini/Ryan/Sheehan? Regardless of how the Dodgers lay it out, it'll be more appealing than the bag of slop St. Louis initially sent Colorado's way.

Keep in mind that Arenado's once-unmatched defense appears to be in decline as he ages, according to 2023's advanced metrics. Also keep in mind that Arenado is a walking 30/100 who long envisioned himself playing for the Dodgers.

Los Angeles will have to give to get, but no team is better equipped to do so with minimal resulting heartburn.

There are 30 different potential packages, and each one of them would be wildly tempting for a Cardinals team that's quickly losing relevance. It hasn't quite come to Firesale O'Clock yet, but the clock is ticking.