The reported decision by St. Louis Cardinals third baseman to not opt out of the remainder of his now-five-year contract that will pay him $144 million not only is a relief for the franchise, but also has other benefits under the Gateway Arch as well.
With Nolan Arenado reportedly staying with his current contract, the St. Louis Cardinals can now focus resources on other roster needs
Coming off another season where he put up impression numbers (.293/.358/.533 slash line with 30 homers and 103 RBI), the 31-year-old Arenado had an opt-out in his contract that, if exercised, could have potentially brought him additional revenue from the St. Louis Cardinals or another team. Now, the Cardinals not only don’t have to worry about Arenado leaving the Gateway City, but also don’t have to worry about paying additional dollars to keep him manning the hot corner.
Those potential extra dollars can now be funneled to other positions, including how the Cardinals may replace the retired Yadier Molina behind the plate or potentially bringing in a shortstop from what is expected to be a bounty of free-agent shortstops who could be game-changers for a franchise.
There is also plenty to be said about Arenado staying within his contract in St. Louis when he could have tested free agency. By keeping his commitment in St. Louis, Arenado is saying he believes in the franchise and that it can be a consistent winner. Will that be yet another beacon to free agents to come to St. Louis over other potential destinations?
Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt will likely take on some of the leadership roles being vacated by Molina and Albert Pujols as they fade into retirement. However, with the return of pitcher Adam Wainwright, there will still be a remnant of past glory in the Cardinals clubhouse.
With St. Louis last winning the World Series in 2011 and last earning a postseason series victory in 2019, the Cardinals need to find some answers for their recent October deficiencies. Additionally, Arenado needs to discover how to keep his offensive production going in the postseason. In his two series with the Cardinals, he’s 1-for-12 at the plate, part of a career .152/.143/.242 slash line in 35 postseason plate appearances with St. Louis and the Colorado Rockies.
Having Arenado commit to returning allows the Cardinals to begin planning their postseason strategy, knowing the resources they will have available to pursue other pieces to the franchise’s roster puzzle in hopes of returning to the top of the National League in 2023.