The Colorado Rockies have locked down their star third baseman for the long haul, signing Nolan Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million contract on Tuesday.
The deal, which replaces the one year that was remaining on Arenado’s old contract, will keep him in Colorado until the 2026 season.
Arenado Becomes Highest-Paid Position Player
At $32.5 million per season, the agreement sets a new per-season salary record for a position player, ahead of Miguel Cabrera’s $31 million per year. Only pitcher Zack Greinke makes more per season at $34.4 million annually.
Arenado has the ability to opt out of the contract after the 2021 season. ESPN cited sources as saying that the deal also includes a full no-trade clause.
“At the end of the day, my heart was here,” Arenado told reporters on Wednesday. “I love playing with this group. I think we have a great group. I really believe we can win. I wouldn’t make this decision if I didn’t believe that.”
A Weapon on Offense and Defense
Last year, the Rockies finished second in the NL West after losing a tiebreaking 163rd game to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Colorado then beat the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card game, before being swept in three games by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Arenado was a major part of that success. Last year, he hit .297 with a league-leading 38 homers and 110 RBIs. Arenado has played the first six years of his career with the Rockies, earning four All-Star appearances and winning the Gold Glove Award in all six seasons.
That was enough for Colorado to make a major commitment to their star, one that should carry him through the entire prime of his career. The main concern from the franchise’s standpoint wasn’t whether the third baseman was worth the money, but rather making sure they would get full value out of Arenado over the length of the contract.
“A larger market team if they have what they call dead salary when a player is a little older, they can sort of get by with it,” Rockies owner Dick Montfort told the Associated Press. “Our high price or All-Star players need to be on the field.”
MLB Teams Loosen Wallets as Season Nears
The new deal is relatively front-loaded. Arenado keeps the same $26 million salary he agreed to in January for the upcoming season, but earns him $35 million each year from 2020 through 2024. That number then drops to $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in the final year of the contract.
There are also relatively small awards bonuses built into the contract, including a $100,000 bonus for winning the MVP award and $25,000 for each All-Star selection or Gold Glove win.
According to Arenado, the relatively slow free agent market this offseason wasn’t a major factor in negotiating the contract, though he was aware of the backdrop. That market is getting a boost at the start of spring training: Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for 10 years and $300 million, while Bryce Harper is expected to sign with someone – the Philadelphia Phillies are considered the favorite – by the end of the week, and could set new records for contract size in the process.
While the Rockies are likely to be in the mix for the NL West title yet again, they are considered longshots to win a world championship in 2019. According to William Hill, Colorado is a 40/1 pick to win the World Series this season.