DENVER — Rockies owner Dick Monfort is optimistic the team can sign All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado to a long term deal.
Arenado and the Rockies agreed to a $26 million deal to avoid arbitration on Thursday, the largest one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player.
Arenado becomes eligible for free agency after the 2019 season and figures to be the top player on the market next offseason.
That is, if he and the Rockies can’t work out a deal beforehand.
The free-agent market has been highly unpredictable the past few offseasons, with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and many other free agents still without deals as spring training rapidly approaches.
“It was important to Nolan, and as it turned out, it was important to me,” Monfort told MLB.com about the one-year deal. “In these deals, everybody sort of guesses what the other side is going to do. Why this, that or whatever. It sort of put to rest on both sides that we want Nolan and Nolan wants to be with us. So that’s probably half the battle.”
“I’m comfortable that we can get a number that we can get to,” Monfort said about signing Arenado to a long-term contract. “There are a lot of things that have to go through Nolan’s mind, too. But I’m confident that after we met, Nolan wants this to happen as much as we do.”
For now, Arenado’s relishing in this moment.
“It’s a great number. Very happy,” Arenado wrote in a message to The Associated Press. “Means a lot, we had good dialogue. Very honest, very straight forward. Everyone has tough skin and sometimes you have to in business and I realized that firsthand. Was great.”
“It feels good to have things settled,” said Arenado, a second-round pick by Colorado in 2009 who’s been an All-Star the last four seasons. “I think it’s good to have less things in the back of your mind and this is one of them. It’s (a) great day — great mutual respect between me, my agency and the club.”
Arenado has won a Gold Glove at third base in each of his six major league seasons. He is a career .291 hitter with 186 home runs, 616 RBIs and an .886 OPS. He batted .297 with an NL-leading 38 homers last season, finishing third in MVP voting while making $17.85 million.
Even more, he helped Colorado to a second straight postseason appearance and nearly the team’s first NL West title, before losing in a tiebreaker at Los Angeles in Game No. 163. The Rockies advanced by beating the Chicago Cubs in the NL wild-card game. They were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in the Division Series.
One thing’s for sure: Manager Bud Black certainly wouldn’t mind scribbling Arenado’s name into the lineup for years to come.
“I do think there’s a desire on both sides to get something done,” Black said. “I’m not in that loop on a regular basis. But regardless of what happens short-term or long-term, Nolan will be ready to play. He knows his purpose is to be a baseball player. And that’s what he does. He plays.”