DENVER — Nolan Arenado likes where he’s at and the direction the Colorado Rockies are headed.
So he’s staying put. For possibly a long, long time. And for a chance to finish what this team has been brewing.
The All-Star third baseman agreed to a $260 million, eight-year contract on Tuesday, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.
Arenado’s agreement includes a provision that allows him to opt out after three years and become a free agent. ESPN’s Jeff Passan added that it also includes a full no-trade clause.
If the deal is finalized, Arenado’s $32.5 million average annual value would be the second-highest in baseball history behind the $34.42 million for pitcher Zack Greinke in a $206.5 million contract with Arizona that began in 2016. Arenado’s deal would replace a $26 million, one-year contract he agreed to Jan. 31 covering his final year of arbitration.
Arenado, who turns 28 on April 16, was on track to be eligible for free agency after this season. But there’s comfort in remaining at Coors Field, especially in these uncertain days of free agency that have seen Manny Machado unsigned until last week and Bryce Harper still searching for a team with exhibition games underway.
That hasn’t been lost on Arenado, who recently said: “There are some really good baseball players out there, and it is crazy to think some of these teams don’t need them. They need them.”
The Rockies are trending up after making the postseason in back-to-back seasons, a franchise first. Even more, they nearly captured 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 Milwaukee in the Division Series after hitting .146 against the Brewers and scoring in just one of 28 innings.
New season. A new chapter for a team that’s been to the World Series just once — in 2007, when the Rockies were swept by the Red Sox.
Known for his big bat and his highlight-reel plays at third, Arenado has been the face of the franchise for years. He’s earned a Gold Glove in each of his six major league seasons. A second-round pick by the Rockies in the 2009 amateur draft, Arenado is a career .291 hitter with 186 home runs, 616 RBIs and an .886 OPS.
In 2018, Arenado batted .297 with an NL-leading 38 homers last season, finishing third in MVP voting.
It’s the second deal worked out by the front office this week. The team also announced a three-year contract extension for manager Bud Black through 2022.
Over the offseason, the Rockies gave their offense a boost by bringing in Daniel Murphy to play first base. That means Ian Desmond will head to the outfield. They’ll rely heavily on youngsters such as Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon or Brendan Rodgers at second base after the departure of DJ LeMahieu to the New York Yankees. Colorado boasts a young rotation led by Kyle Freeland and German Marquez that’s filled with promise.
Arenado, though, will be the driving force.
“It’s pretty safe to say he makes every team he’s on even better,” outfielder Charlie Blackmon said in the offseason of Arenado’s presence. “I really hope that’s with the Rockies for years and years to come.”
That sentiment became a reality.