DENVER — There will be no more summer of glove. Nolan Arenado is officially gone.
The Rockies sent Arenado and $50 million to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber, right-handers Tony Locey and Jake Sommers and infielders Elehuris Montero and Mateo Gil, whose father Benji Gil is a former major leaguer. The deal became official Monday night.
Fangraphs ranks Montero as the Cards’ 14th best prospect, Locey 16th and Gil 21st. Montero played 2019 in Double-A. Gomber, 27, projects to be on the big-league roster, competing for the fifth starter's spot or filling a bullpen role. Gomber posted a 1-1 record with a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings last season, including four starts.
However, Rockies fans need not have The Baseball Cube website bookmarked to realize these are not top prospects. The Rockies were motivated to shed salary after absorbing huge losses last season without fans in the 60-game shortened season. Colorado will save $149 million, but dispatching arguably the best player in franchise history in a salary dump remains hard to comprehend.
From 2015-2019, Arenado ranked as one of the game's top players. He has won eight straight Gold Gloves. He struggled with a shoulder injury last season, suffered in the first week of season. He hit .253 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 48 games. Arenado kept his opt-out clause for 2021, added one for 2022 and received an additional year on his contract for $15 million.
“Many have heard me say that one of the great things about baseball is that you always have a chance to get better,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. “Today, we got better! A deal of this nature, acquiring a player of Nolan’s considerable talents, are the ones that can set you apart in many ways.”
The Cardinals own 13 straight winning seasons, reaching the playoffs eight times. The Rockies have reached the playoffs twice in Arenado's career, and most analysts predict they will challenge 100 losses — a nadir they have never hit — this season.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich — who have melted Rockies' fans in anger on social media since news of the trade broke last week — will talk with the media at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Arenado will hold a Zoom presser with the Cardinals media Tuesday at the same time.
Going through the players acquired via MLB Pipeline reports, Montero looks like a big leaguer, but has yet to play like one. The 22-year-old is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, and struggled in Double-A in 2019 because of a high strikeout rate.
Locey, 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, can reach 100 miles per hour on his fastball and is a former star at Georgia. He has not pitched above A-ball.
Gil, a shortstop, is 6-foot-1 and180 pounds, with soft hands and quick feet. He is projected to reach the big leagues in 2022.
Sommers is nothing more than a flier, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty who spent four seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Sources close to Arenado called this move "bittersweet." While feeling inevitable when his feud with Bridich became public — "Jeff is very disrespectful. I never talk trash or anything. I play hard, keep my mouth shut. But I can only get crossed so many times," Arenado told Denver7 a year ago — it was still difficult for Arenado to leave the only organization he's ever known.
That said, he is thrilled for this opportunity with a team that is now considered the favorite to win the National League Central.
The Rockies, meanwhile, are reeling. With Arenado gone, the focus shifts to shortstop Trevor Story. Will the Rockies present him with a contract offer, and if so, will he accept it? Monday, he told The Denver Post he is "frustrated."
Story will be a free agent at season's end, so he could turn down any prospective offer, leaving the Rockies to decide whether to trade the All-Star shortstop or let him walk at season's end.
Monday brought finality with Arenado. The ending was predictable, but remarkably painful for fans, nonetheless.