SCOTTSDALE – A year ago, in the opening days of the season, the Rockies announced a long-term deal with outfielder Charlie Blackmon, a statement of ownership of its commitment to keep the key players in place with a hope a championship awaits.
Wednesday, the Rockies went a step farther.
The Rockies confirmed the signing of third baseman Nolan Arenado to potential eight-year contract, although he does have the option to opt out after the 2021 season – another step in ensuring the home-grown foundation of this team has a chance to make a post-season impact.
“I believe, as an organization, we’ve tried to set a standard of honesty, integrity, trust, passion, love of the game, love of the organization,” Rockies owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort said. “(General manager) Jeff (Bridich) and the front office lives it every day. (Manager) Buddy (Black) lives it every day. Our players live it every day.
“Nolan is proof of where this standard will get you in life. He plays the game hard, he works hard, he’s passionate, and most importantly for all you fans out there, he wants to win. And that’s really what we all want to do.”
So far so good.
As Blackman put it following Wednesday’s official confirmation of the deal with Arenado, “I am excited about what this means for the organization. We’re really committed to winning. Anytime you have Nolan on the field you have a good chance of winning a ballgame.”
The core of this team is in place.
--After this season, the only potential free agents on the spring training roster are reliever Seunghwan Oh, and non-roster invitee Mark Reynolds. The Rockies hold options for 2020 on catcher Chris Iannetta, and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn.
--After the 2020 season, Chad Bettis, Daniel Murphy and Chris Rusin are free-agent eligible. The Rockies hold options for 2021 on relievers Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee.
--After the 2021 season, the Rockies next big test will come with starting pitchers Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray, reliever Scott Oberg, and shortstop Trevor Story possible free agents. The Rockies do hold an option on Ian Desmond.
The statement in back-to-back years of locking up Blackmon and Arenado underscores the confidence ownership has in the team that is being put together on the field.
And the fact they gave both players the opportunity to opt out during the contract underscores their commitment to providing a winning environment, and if the players can choose to opt out, which in truth would benefit both sides.
It would allow either or both players to look for an opportunity with another organization and would open the way for the Rockies to regroup with having an onerous salary hanging over the franchise in a rebuilding era.
“Nearly 10 years ago we drafted Nolan in the second round, June of 2009,” said genera manager Jeff Bridich. “We have been able to see him grow from a teenager to man, and now he is one of the truly best players in the game. “
How good was underscored with the deal he has signed, which has the highest annual average value in Major League history for a position player.
“There is a chance this makes Nolan a lifetime Rockie,” said Bridich.
And that, said Arenado, is something he would like to see evolve, as well.
“I’d like to be in one organization all my career, like Derek Jeter and Todd Helton,” he said. “Those are two special people.”
“I don’t follow anyone’s lead,” he said. “I follow my heart.”
And it led him back to the Rockies.
“I hope it sends a message that not only do we value pursuing a championship, but we are trying to do that with the guys that are our best players and have been around in our organization for a long period of time. We try to do well by our players, and we are not afraid to make commitments.”
They showed that a year ago with Blackmon.
The reinforced the commitment this spring with Arenado.