Phillies should be at front of potential Nolan Arenado market

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies follows the flight of a sixth inning solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on September 1, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies follows the flight of a sixth inning solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on September 1, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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If the Rockies do decide to trade Nolan Arenado this offseason, the Phillies should be one of the first teams on the phone with them.

The Phillies were hoping Maikel Franco could be a serviceable third baseman this year. The thought was that there would be less pressure on him to produce thanks to the additions made during the offseason, allowing him to succeed in a less prominent role.

To put it mildly, that did not happen as Franco has struggled mightily this season. In 110 games, he has a .236/.299/.415 line and -0.5 wins above replacement. His hot first two weeks of the season is the only thing keeping his numbers from being even worse. Franco was demoted to Triple-A in August, and this will likely be his last year as a Phillie.

Philadelphia still has a gaping hole at third base that will assuredly be a priority this offseason. Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon will be the best free-agent available and should be a prime target for the front office. However, there may be another equally talented third baseman available via trade this offseason.

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote Wednesday about the possibility of the Rockies trading perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado. Rosenthal cited several factors they may trade him, such as Colorado’s dearth of prospect talent and displeasure with the organization’s use (or lack thereof) of analytics to improve the team’s performance and lack of a plan to contend with the playing conditions in Denver.

Trading Arenado would mark a major shift in direction for the Rockies organization. They signed him to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension in February to build around him. Arenado and the Rockies expected to be playoff contenders yet again, but instead, have the second-worst record in the National League. Rosenthal writes that trading Arenado would jumpstart a rebuild by bringing in multiple talented young players.

Rosenthal compared trading Arenado to the Marlins trading Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees following his 2017 MVP season. Philadelphia was rumored to have at least some interest in Stanton when he was on the market, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them involved for Arenado as well.

Arenado would fill a major hole in the lineup and form an extremely fierce combination with Bryce Harper in the heart of the order. Arenado was an All-Star for the fifth straight season this year and should be in line for his seventh career Gold Glove. He may receive some down-ballot MVP votes this year and he has received MVP votes the last four years, including a third-place finish last year.

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Of course, there are major hurdles to trading for Arenado, the first being his full no-trade clause. He would have to be truly unhappy in Colorado or see something in Philadelphia that makes him want to jump ship. The only indication that he may be happy is the implied notion that he didn’t sign up for a rebuild after saying this Rockies season felt like one.

On top of that, Rosenthal wrote that the Rockies are looking for young pitchers, which the Phillies don’t have. Their top two pitching prospects, Spencer Howard and Adonis Medina, probably wouldn’t stand up to other offers the Rockies would get.

A hypothetical trade package for Arenado could be Scott Kingery, Alec Bohm, Howard and/or Medina. However, that offer would likely be laughed off by the Rockies. Philadelphia doesn’t have a strong farm system either, making it harder to pull off a trade for a player of Arenado’s caliber.

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If the Rockies do decide to shop Arenado this offseason, the Phillies should definitely look to be one of the team’s involved. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have enough to offer to make the deal work, which would take them out of the race.