There is perhaps no player more closely connected to the Dodgers in recent seasons than Nolan Arenado. Whether it’s because of his Southern California roots (Newport Beach) or his tremendous talent, people have long predicted that the prolific third baseman would end up in Dodger blue at some point.
These rumors have started to heat up once again, as many around baseball predict that the Rockies will shop the third baseman after another disappointing season for the Colorado franchise.
In the end, two questions need to be answered: Could the Dodgers afford Arenado? And if they can, should they actually trade for him?
Let’s take a deeper look at both to see if the Dodgers should pull the trigger.
Can the Dodgers Afford Arenado?
Let’s start with the basics. Nolan Arenado signed a long-term extension with Colorado prior to the 2020 season that will pay him $260 million through 2026. The salary hit is roughly $32.5 million per year, but it will be higher in the first few years than the last.
If we’re strictly talking prospects and financials, the Dodgers have what it takes to get a deal done. Not only do they have plenty of salary room to work with going forward, but their farm system is still one of the best in baseball.
In all likelihood, any trade for Arenado would cost some serious prospect capital. To put it another way, you would probably be saying goodbye to at least two of Gavin Lux, Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, Mitchell White, or Kody Hoese on top of some additional lower level players. That is the price for an 8-time Gold Glover who would instantly elevate both sides of the ball for any team he plays for. But to answer just this specific question, yes the Dodgers could hypothetically afford a trade for Arenado.
Should the Dodgers Make the Move?
This question is a little harder to answer than the first. Could the Dodgers afford to make a move for Arenado? The short answer is yes, they can. But to answer the question of should they, it gets a little cloudier.
Obviously, adding a player of Arenado’s caliber would make the Dodgers lineup even better than it already is. He would fit right in at the vacancy left behind by Justin Turner should he choose to leave in free agency and fills a need that president Andrew Friedman identified as an area of focus for the offseason.
If you heard Andrew Friedman this morning he said the Dodgers are looking for a right handed hitter and variety in the bullpen. @MLBNetworkRadio
— 2020 World Champs – Tim Rogers (@SDDodger) November 9, 2020
1. The price is still too high
The biggest issue with any trade for Arenado is justifying the price that LA would have to pay. While they can definitely afford him, the toll that it would take on their farm system is hard to justify when the team is already in a great position without him. Additionally, Arenado has a contract opt-out after the 2021 season that should give any team looking to acquire him some pause when sending the farm to Colorado.
2. The Dodgers already have options at third
Part of the reason that the Dodgers should feel comfortable without a trade is that they already have some great in-house options available. Edwin Rios showed this season that he is more than deserving of an extended look at third base. Prospect Kody Hoese looks like he’s only one or two years away from being ready to take on the position in the majors as well. And last but not least, Justin Turner is still very much a priority signing for this ballclub for his contributions on the field and in the clubhouse.
3. It would mean saying goodbye to a beloved Dodger
Additionally, taking on Arenado’s contract would almost certainly mean saying goodbye to one of Seager, Bellinger, or Buehler in free agency. As much money as the Dodgers have, there is no feasible way that the front office can justify paying so many players the money that they will demand on the open market.
Put those three factors together, and it becomes increasingly hard to see the Dodgers making any move for the All-Star third baseman, regardless of how talented he is.
The title drought in Los Angeles is finally over, but that doesn’t mean they’re done chasing rings. A player like Nolan Arenado would definitely help in that chase, but it’s hard to see any move for him from the Dodgers.
Rather than gutting the farm system for a player already over 30, the Dodgers can continue the path that has brought them sustained success and invest in their homegrown players going forward.
The future for this team is just as bright as its present, and it will take smart decisions from Andrew Friedman and company to keep this contention window open as long as possible.