If the Phillies have any desire to be a World Series contender for the foreseeable future, they will do whatever it takes to go and get Nolan Arenado from the Rockies.
Less than a year after signing an 8 year/$260 million extension with Colorado, Nolan Arenado voiced his displeasure with the Rockies, leading all fans and media around the world to believe that he wants out.
Jeff Passan has reported that there is a lot going on in the organization that Arenado “(doesn’t) want to be a part of,” mainly stemming from some of the promises made upon signing the extension. One of these promises broken seems to be the lack of the Rockies’ attempts to acquire a big-name free agent as other teams in the NL West, and throughout the NL, are stockpiling talent.
While the Rockies continue to fumble the situation of signing a superstar to an extension and attempting build around him (see Troy Tulowitzki, 2006-2015), they also lose any leverage that they had before Arenado took his gripes public. Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has said the team has stopped fielding offers for Arenado, but Arenado seems to have swung that door back open, and the Phillies need to take advantage of the situation at hand.
Michael Jack Schmidt has cast a very large shadow over the 3rd base position of the Phillies. And while Scott Rolen was a very good third baseman (winning Rookie of the Year in 1997), his constant clashing with the organization/coaching prevented him from becoming that high-level player for the Phillies.
Rolen went on to have the best years of his career after the Phillies traded him to St. Louis. Since then, the Phillies have rotated in a collection of serviceable replacement players, but none that could reclaim the throne that has been left vacant by Schmidt.
Arenado is a franchise-altering player, and has been the best third baseman in baseball since 2015.
Over the last five seasons, Arenado has made five All Star teams, won five Golden Glove and four Silver Slugger awards (losing out to the red-hot Anthony Rendon in 2019), finished top-eight in MVP voting every year, led the league in home runs three times and led in RBIs twice, and three straight Platinum Glove awards (given to the best field in the entire league). Not only that, since entering the league in 2013, no other NL third baseman has won a Gold Glove besides Arenado.
Who was the last NL third baseman to go on a similar run? Scott Rolen, winning seven out of nine, and 5 straight after the Phillies traded him. Coincidence? I think not! Plus, just imagine a lineup with Arenado (best 3B), JT Realmuto (best C), and Bryce Harper (NL MVP), not to mention Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Scotty Kingery, and McCutchen. Absolutely lethal.
Now a little something for the Arenado “skeptics:” his numbers away from Coors Field aren’t great. Coors Field is notorious for being one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, and have a tendency to balloon some numbers. However, most hitters have pretty regular drop offs in terms of production on the road.
For Arenado, his discrepancies are more noticeable due to how insane his home numbers are, yet the power production isn’t too far off comparing home and road numbers. Where he tends to struggle on the road is hitting 36 less doubles rather than the 17 less home runs.
Home: 3.01 AB/H, 13.89 AB/HR, 13.27 AB/2B, 5.75 AB/1B, 4.09 AB/RBI.
Away: 3.72 AB/H, 16.68 AB/HR, 19.71 AB/2B, 6.46 AB/1B, 5.98 AB/RBI.
If you were to spread Arenado’s away numbers out over an entire season, where he averages 618 AB, he’d have 166 hits, 37 HR, and 103 RBIs. Promise me that production, and I’ll take it to the bank every time. The last Phillies to put up a season with 160+ hits, 30+ HR and 100+ RBIs since Schmidt’s rookie season? Schmidt in 1974 and 1986, and Rolen in 1998.
The Phillies have the opportunity to lock down one of the premier all-around baseball players of our generation. And yes, everyone in Philadelphia or associated with the Phillies is gushing over Alec Bohm and his prospective greatness. But Arenado is heralded for his game now, and Realmuto, Harper, Nola, Hoskins, Kingery, and Wheeler are primed to make a run now.
Dominance to the extent that Arenado has displayed is once in a generation talent. The Phillies need to make every attempt to acquire him, even if it means giving up long-term developing pieces. Pounce on the Braves and Nationals while they’re down (striking out with Donaldson/Bryant/Rendon). Become the team from 2008-2011, the team everyone feared to play.