The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to acquire All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies in a trade needing approvals before it can be finalized, a person familiar with the swap tells The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday night because the trade had not yet been finalized.
Arenado, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, signed a $260 million, eight-year deal with Colorado in February 2019 and is owed $199 million for the six remaining seasons.
Colorado would pay St. Louis a large amount of cash as part of the trade, the person said, and Major League Baseball must approve a cash transaction of more than $1 million.
Arenado’s contract has a no-trade provision that requires his approval for any assignment. He may restructure his contract as part of a trade, the person said, which could require approval of the players’ association. The trade agreement was first reported by The Athletic.
The 29-year-old Arenado has hit .293 with an .890 OPS over eight seasons, averaging 35 home runs and 114 RBIs per 162 games. Aided in part by hitter-friendly Coors Field, he’s led the National League in home runs three times and led the majors in RBIs twice.
The Cardinals finished second in the NL Central last season and lost a first-round playoff matchup against the San Diego Padres. Arenado will bump Matt Carpenter out of his role as the starting third baseman and play in an infield with All-Stars Paul DeJong at shortstop and Paul Goldschmidt at first base.
Arenado slumped during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight home runs and a .738 OPS over 48 games. He earned $12,962,963 in prorated pay.
Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich acknowledged last offseason that he was listening to trade offers on the five-time All-Star, and Arenado said in February of 2020 that “there’s a lot of disrespect around there” and “there is no relationship anymore” between him and Bridich.
Like Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday before him, Arenado grew tired of losing, especially in an NL West division ruled by the Los Angeles Dodgers every year he’s been in the big leagues.
Arenado’s contract called for salaries of $35 million annually from 2021-24, $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in 2026. His deal included a provision allowing him to opt out after the 2021 season to become a free agent.
St. Louis brings back much of the same team that made last year’s postseason, including veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright, who finalized an $8 million, one-year deal Friday.
Wainwright is returning for his 17th season with St. Louis, matching Bob Gibson (1959-75) for the second-most seasons with the Cardinals among pitchers, one behind Jesse Haines (1920-37).
Wainwright was 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA last season, striking out 54 in 65 2/3 innings. He is 167-98 with a 3.38 ERA in his career, earning three All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves.
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina remains a free agent. The 38-year-old could still return for an 18th season with the Cardinals after hitting .262 with four home runs in 2020.
In the ten years since the Platinum Glove Awards were introduced honoring the best fielder regardless of position in each league, Molina and Arenado are tied for the most with four each.
Arenado would be the latest established star acquired by St. Louis in his prime.
Mark McGwire came over from Oakland in July 1997 and agreed two months later to a $28.5 million, three-year contract rather than test the market. Jim Edmonds was obtained from the Angels in March 2000 and reached a $57 million, six-year deal that May. Matt Holliday arrived in a swap with the Athletics in July 2009, became a free agent and agreed in February to a $120 million, seven-year deal.
Most recently, the Cardinals acquired Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, from Arizona prior to the 2019 season, and he signed a $130 million deal to stay with St. Louis through 2024.