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  • Writer's pictureEthan Semendinger

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado

Last week, the president of the St. Louis Cardinals stated, "We're going to trade people". This week, we'll look at some targets:

 

The Background of the Comment:

In 2022, the St. Louis Cardinals handedly won the NL Central, though the season had been another in a stream of recent disappointment. Not only did they see two homegrown future Hall of Famers retire in Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols (though Pujols did take a 10 year vacation away from St. Louis), but they lost in the NL Wild Card game/series for the 3rd straight season.


In the 11 seasons since their World Series win in 2011, the Cardinals had made just 1 other World Series, 3 NLCS series, 1 NLDS series, 3 wild cards, and missed the playoffs all together in 3 other seasons. For being the 2nd most winning franchise in the sport with 11 championships of their own, the last decade had shown promise with few results. In their last 7 years from 2016 to 2022 they made it to the NLDS once. During that stretch they saw a fellow NL Central team win the World Series (Chicago Cubs, 2016) as well as a former division rival in the Houston Astros win 2 (2017, 2022) and make 2 others (2019, 2021).


Luckily for the Cardinals, however they still had one of the best teams in baseball- on paper- coming into the 2023 season. They had the reigning 2022 NL MVP in Paul Goldschmidt, another yearly MVP contender and 6-time platinum glove winner in Nolan Arenado returning. They took an All-Star catcher in Willson Contreras from their division rival Cubs, and had a plethora of promising young talent to fill in with the likes of Lars Nootbaar, Nolan Gorman, Jordan Walker, and Brandon Donovan to name a few.


On the pitching side of things they had another homegrown and potential future Hall of Famer return with Adam Wainwright, as well as guys like Jack Flaherty (returning from injury), Jordan Montgomery, and Miles Mikolas for the rotation. The bullpen also looked okay, but with the abundance of other talent the team looked poised to make another great run.


Going into the 2023 All-Star break, the St. Louis Cardinals instead have a 38-52 record (.422 winning percentage) and are 5th in the NL Central. They hold the 6th worst record in the MLB, have a less than 1% chance to make the playoffs, and are 11.5 games back in their division.


It's so surprise that the president of the team, John Mozeliak stated, "We're going to trade people".


Could any of those people be of interest to the Yankees?

 

Nolan Arenado:

Nolan Arenado is arguably one of the best all-around players in baseball today. His career accolades are tremendous with 6 Platinum Gloves (straight from 2017-2022), 10 Gold Gloves (one for every season he's played so far), 8 All-Star nods, 5 Silver Slugger awards, and 6 times finishing in the Top-10 for MVP (including 4 times in the Top-5 and 2 times in the Top-3).


In 11 career years through what he's done so far in 2023, Arenado already has accumulated +53.5 bWAR/47.6 fWAR and has put himself comfortably on the track to retire and make the Hall of Fame 5 years later. In 1470 career games, he has a combined .288/.345/.534/.879 quadruple slash with a 124 OPS+/122 wRC+. He also has collected 1614 hits, 318 home runs, and 1030 RBI's. He's also played in 150+ games in every season since 2015, except last year. He's an all-around great and there is no question about it.


Now, in 2023, Nolan Arenado is having an obvious down-season...for him. He's at just +1.5 bWAR/+2.0 fWAR though he is still slashing very well with a .283/.332/.518/.850 quadruple slash and a 129 OPS+/128 wRC+. The problem in his lower production is, for the first time ever, he's producing negative defensively. Now, you could argue about half a season being a small sample size for defensive metrics and that his negative value is slight and his track record far exceeds any worry. However, it is important to note that he is in his age-32 season and this could be a worrying sign to note going forward.


For his contract status, Nolan Arenado is in the middle of a 9-Year/$275 Million ($30.5M AAV) contract extension that he originally signed with the Colorado Rockies. In that extension was a player option to exercise this past offseason and Arenado declined to do so. So, as part of the trade to bring him to St. Louis, the Colorado Rockies are on the hook for $5.5 Million yearly between 2024 and 2026. This effectively makes Arenado a $25.5 Million/year player.

 

Trading for Arenado:

On Friday, I am going to highlight a complete trade proposal with my reasonings for 4 different St. Louis Cardinals players to come to the New York Yankees if they are set on having this be a season where they are all in. It would be a blockbuster of immense proportions and I have no anticipation of it- or anything else near it- ever happening, but it is a fun exercise to consider. However, because of that, I am not going to highlight much about a possible trade proposal in this post.


Instead, I am going to look at Nolan Arenado's current expected trade value from BaseballTradeValues.com.


Currently, Nolan Arenado is a net negative trade asset. He is worth (in terms of Millions of dollars of Trade Value, or MTV) -17.3 MTV.


That number compares his projected future value against his contract salary and length and gives a negative outlook. That seems really bad without context.


Currently the Yankees have Josh Donaldson at third base. He's making $21 Million this year and will be owed at least $8 Million next year if he's not brought back./$16 Million if he is. His value over a contract length of 1.5 years is worth -14.2 MTV.


Furthermore, DJ LeMahieu and his remaining contract of 3.5 Years/$52.5 Million is worth -22 MTV.


On a year-by-year basis, that makes Arenado's deal over another 4.5 seasons seem very good. Especially for a team willing to eat the negative value down the road for going all-in right now.


And, if the Cardinals are already punting on the 2023 season, it could be a sensible option that the Cardinals would be willing to take on a short-term bad contract for the Yankees in lieu of an exchange of money on Arenado's contract.


I'm not suggesting a 1-for-1 deal between Arenado and Donaldson. However, I am inferring that those two players very well could be part of a much bigger deal come Friday.


I'll see you tomorrow with another player of interest from the Cardinals!

4 Comments


cpogo0502
Jul 17, 2023

Pass.


Thank you.

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Unknown member
Jul 17, 2023

Ok, just what Yankees need, another right handed batter in the lineup. DIdn't EJ identify 5 potential low-profile players to look at about a month ago, most of whom wouldn't fetch a boatload of prospects?

I had thought the mantra of SSTN was release Donaldson, give Peraza 3B.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jul 17, 2023
Replying to

SSTN doesn't have a mantra. Each of the writers have their own points of view.


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Alan B.
Alan B.
Jul 17, 2023

Arenado is starting to having back problems. I dont think they'd be willing to take back Donaldson's contract. STL having both Walker & Gorman on their ML roster already gives them a 3B replacement. Plus, they'd start with Peraza, Arias, Vasquez, & Hampton as their ask. Sorry, too much, since they will insist on the Yankees taking back his whole contract. This is a discussion better for the off season. I'm not making this trade just to get into the playoffs.Get into the World Series? Then I'd consider it, but i don't see the Yankees right now even making the ALCS.

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