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Arenado embraces playing for Cardinals

by The Associated Press | February 3, 2021 at 3:01 a.m.
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, file photo, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado warms up before a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Denver. Team owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich will hold a zoom press conference Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado hasn't expressed this much optimism since signing his $260 million contract with Colorado two years ago.

"Excited" was the term the slugging, slick-fielding third baseman used about a dozen times Tuesday at his introductory news conference after his blockbuster trade from the Rockies to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Excited to join a team that's always in the playoff picture. Excited to join an organization with such rich history.

Left unsaid but just underneath the surface: Excited to flee a franchise that posted just two winning records in his eight years in Denver, and that never advanced beyond the NL division series.

The eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star forced his way out of Colorado by steadfastly sticking to a request to be traded. He'll be suiting up for a Cardinals team thinking about an NL Central title and more, while the Rockies are looking at some variation of a rebuild in front of a frustrated fan base.

"They really care about winning," Arenado said of the Cardinals. "That's all they talk about. It's really awesome to be a part of. It's a little different -- we're hopeful we can win the division title and it feels good knowing we have a chance to do that -- a good chance."

While the Cardinals have had 13 consecutive winning seasons with five division titles during the streak, the Rockies have had nine winning seasons since their inaugural campaign in 1993 -- and have never won the NL West.

The disconnect between Arenado and the front office started to take place around nine months after he signed his $260 million, eight-year contract in February 2019. The rift centered around improving the team after consecutive playoff appearances in 2017-18. But the Rockies slid back in 2019 with a 91-loss campaign and missed the postseason again in a virus-shortened 2020 season.

The Cardinals acquired Arenado for what some considered a steal: Left-hander Austin Gomber and four minor-leaguers. As part of the trade, Colorado will send cash to St. Louis to offset part of the money Arenado is due in his contract.

As part of his agreement to waive a no-trade provision, Arenado agreed to add a season to his deal, which now extends for seven seasons through 2027. His deal had given him the right to opt out and become a free agent after the 2021 season. His new agreement gives him the right to opt out and become a free agent after the 2022 or 2023 seasons.

"When we have an opportunity to get premium players from other clubs for whatever reason, it's incumbent upon us to bring them to St. Louis," St. Louis Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. "Many of them, of course, have contributed to our championships: To name a few: Matt Holliday, Scott Rolen, Mark McGwire, Adam Wainwright, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter.

"That's a pretty good crew right there, and Nolan certainly fits in that group. I've always been a believer that great players make everyone else on the team better."

Arenado grew weary of losing, especially in an NL West ruled by the Los Angeles Dodgers every year he's been in the big leagues.

"Whenever you're losing, it's frustrating," Arenado, 29, said.

Arenado has turned the page and is looking forward to what he's calling the "second chapter" of his career. His addition lowered the Cardinals' odds of winning a World Series from 40-1 to 20-1, according to SportsBetting.com. The Rockies are 125-1 long shots after Arenado's departure.

"We have an extremely talented team," Rockies owner Dick Monfort said. "They are built to compete. It's time for them to take the next step."

One of the big steps could be locking up All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, who's eligible to become a free agent after this season.

Arenado is looking forward to wearing a Cardinals uniform, but saying farewell to good friends like Charlie Blackmon and Story was difficult.

"I'm going to miss some of the boys on the Rockies," Arenado said. "But I'm just super excited. I've always admired this organization from afar."

FILE - Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort, left, sits on the main concourse and talks with general manager Jeff Bridich as the baseball team practices in this file photograph taken Sunday, July 12, 2020, in Denver. Bridich and Monfort are holding a news conference via zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort, left, sits on the main concourse and talks with general manager Jeff Bridich as the baseball team practices in this file photograph taken Sunday, July 12, 2020, in Denver. Bridich and Monfort are holding a news conference via zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - Dick Monfort, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies, talks during a media tour of Coors Field as workers prepare for the baseball team's home-opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in this file photograph taken Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Denver. Monfort and team general manager Jeff Bridich will hold a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - Dick Monfort, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies, talks during a media tour of Coors Field as workers prepare for the baseball team's home-opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in this file photograph taken Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Denver. Monfort and team general manager Jeff Bridich will hold a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich watches the team warm up before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in this file photograph taken Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in Denver. Bridich and Rockies owner Dick Monfort held a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich watches the team warm up before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in this file photograph taken Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in Denver. Bridich and Rockies owner Dick Monfort held a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to discuss the trade of the team's star third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2020, file photo, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado throws to first during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Denver. The St. Louis Cardinals finalized their blockbuster trade to acquire All-Star third baseman Arenado from the Rockies on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2020, file photo, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado throws to first during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Denver. The St. Louis Cardinals finalized their blockbuster trade to acquire All-Star third baseman Arenado from the Rockies on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
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