In case you were living under a rock over the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals traded for a guy named Nolan Arenado on Friday evening. To put it in movie terms, this is when Sylvester Stallone ties the bandana behind his head and saves the day. That's Arenado's instant effect on the Cardinals.
But there's much more to know and understand about Arenado's appeal to the city and team, so allow me to present five noteworthy elements to the soon-to-be newest Cardinal.
Don't sleep on the defense
Arenado has won a Gold Glove at third base-one of the toughest and most grueling positions-in each year that he has been in the Major Leagues. Eight to be exact. For comparison, former Cardinal Scott Rolen collected eight during his entire 17 year career. The 29-year-old is a maverick at the hot corner, taking away hits and saving runs at will. According to Fangraphs, Arenado has saved the Colorado Rockies 120 runs during his career. He will toss baseballs across the diamond to another multi-Gold Glover owner, Paul Goldschmidt. The infield just became elite.
Now just imagine if Kolten Wong was re-signed this week.
Don't worry about his bat away from Coors
It's a well-known fact that playing in Colorado allows a hitter to take on supernatural status for a portion of their career. Matt Holliday was a different hitter during his time with the Rockies. But Arenado is a flat-out top notch hitter. That means he can hit anywhere. Away from Coors Field, an OPS (on-base and slugging percentage combined) of .793 is solid. But Arenado slugged .471 on the road, so he knows how to hit. It's not like his bat stopped working right on the road. Arenado sprayed 114 doubles around other team's parks in 536 games.
Consider his career strikeout percentage of 15% and walk percentage of 9%. When the amount of walks you draw is that close to your strikeouts, that's a high skill set at the plate. Discipline counts in a player's prime and advanced age. Arenado can hit. That's all you need to know.
He turns the Cardinals into World Series contenders
In 2022. The Cardinals will challenge for the pennant this year, but need to cut a few more big salaries, or press hard on overachievement to get past Los Angeles and the New York Mets this year. I can see them matching up nicely with the San Diego Padres, but it'll take a year.
But trading for Arenado changes things for St. Louis. His arrival helped build a monstrous subdivision between the Cardinals and the rest of the National League Central, and it will last. The Cubs are cutting salary and the Brewers are another team entirely, with the latter team renaming their stadium, subtracting the Miller. Suffice to say, the acquisition of Arenado widened the gap considerably in St. Louis' division. The Cardinals are officially kings again.
Confirmation that the front office is going for the jugular again
Arenado lowered the heat underneath John Mozeliak's seat considerably. Acquiring a superstar still in his prime, two years after acquiring Goldschmidt, is a heavyweight move. The President of Baseball Operations, along with General Manager Michael Girsch, showed Cardinal Nation that he means business.
It also affirms Bill DeWitt Jr.'s status as a masterclass businessman who wants to do more than merely have a good season. He wants to win championships. The majority owner has acquired two during his 25 year stay in St. Louis, coming close on two other occasions. After making the best deal possible to Giancarlo Stanton (the player refused) and coming close on David Price, DeWitt Jr. finally lowered the boom with Arenado, acquiring a guy with plenty of juice left in his knees who gives you a face of the franchise after Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are long gone.
He won't opt out either
The second biggest concern about Arenado is the opt-out clauses he has in his contract, each coming into play once the next two seasons (including 2021) are concluded. That means he can call DeWitt Jr. and just say, "peace out, Bill."
But do you really think a 30 or 31-year-old guy making around $30 million dollars to play baseball is going to turn that down, especially after the thunder that 2020 and a still-going pandemic brought? No way. Arenado waved his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis, something Stanton wouldn't do. He got the extra opt-out flex in his contract, but that only gives him security.
Rest assured, Nolan Arenado and the St. Louis Cardinals will grow old together. This is the kind of trade that hasn't taken place in quite some time, and should send you through the roof about the next six years down at Busch Stadium.
If Cardinal Nation had a fever, Nolan Arenado is the cure.