The Cardinals are not trading Nolan Arenado, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak firmly stating that fact to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There was a report earlier this week that the Dodgers had strong interest in the third baseman and were discussing a deal, but it seems those talks won’t lead to Arenado leaving St. Louis. “I have stated we are not trading him, have not asked him to waive his no-trade clause,” Mozeliak said. “So at this time, we are working on building for future success.”
Despite the reported talks with the Dodgers, there were inherent obstacles to getting a deal done. For one thing, Arenado and the Cardinals seem to have a good relationship, as he didn’t trigger his opt-out opportunity at the end of last year. Most observers agreed he could have beat the five years and $144MM remaining on the deal, but he chose to stay, seemingly happy to stick with the organization as opposed to maximizing his earnings.
Since he has a full no-trade clause, he would have to sign off on any deal, and it would be surprising for him to do so after just waiving that opt-out chance. The report on the talks with the Dodgers indicated he was willing to accept a deal only to the Dodgers, having always wanted to play for them as a Southern California native. But Arenado told reporters last night that he had not been approached about his clause.
Beyond the contractual complications, all indications have suggested the Cards are planning to sell some pieces but still try to contend again next year. Since Arenado is one of the better players in the game, it would be hard to imagine a scenario wherein they subtract him from the roster and make their 2024 team better. The Cards do have a surplus of position players and a dearth of pitching, so perhaps one could make the argument that even “losing” a trade that makes the pitching staff better would be a net victory, but the easier path is just to keep Arenado and find other ways of upgrading the pitching staff.
Although Arenado is apparently sticking around, it still seems like Mozeliak and his staff will be busy in the next few days. The Cardinals are currently 46-59 and 11 games out of a playoff spot. Mozeliak has already admitted that the club will have to do some selling, making moves that are more focused on upgrading the 2024 club. That will seemingly lead to trades of impending free agents like Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks between now and the August 1 deadline.