Why didn’t the Yankees explore a trade for Nolan Arenado?
Quite literally out of nowhere, the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies struck a deal for Nolan Arenado on Friday and the entire baseball world was shook. For one, arguably the best third baseman in the game is on the move. Also, the return for him was … really bad.
According to multiple outlets, though not confirmed, the Cardinals could be sending the Rockies a package featuring LHP Austin Gomber, 1B Luken Baker, OF Jhon Torres, RHP Jake Woodford and/or RHP Angel Rondón. Gomber and Woodford are pitchers on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, but Torres (No. 8 prospect), Rondon (No. 13 prospect) and Baker (No. 23 prospect) are hardly among the top talent in their farm system.
AND the Rockies are sending $50 million to the Cardinals. How in the world did the New York Yankees not get involved if this is all it took?!
We’re not going to sit here and say the Yankees needed to do this. Gio Urshela is incredible and figures to be our starting third baseman for the next three years. However, even despite luxury tax concerns, there’s no reason why the Yankees shouldn’t have at least kicked the tires here. They could have paid off the tax using the money sent by Colorado, given up a largely uninspiring group of prospects, and could’ve had the best third baseman in baseball for at least the next year.
Then again, we’d venture to say Arenado would probably take his chances in the Bronx and not use any of his opt-out clauses. If that were the case and put the Yankees in a precarious financial situation, but who’s to complain? Arenado’s defense and offense are almost unrivaled and he’s just 29 years old.
Such a move wouldn’t given the Yankees tremendous insurance in the event they’re unable to keep a combination Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez and/or Urshela for the long haul. If we’re being honest, it’s hard to envision all of those guys remaining with the team after 2022. It just doesn’t seem feasible unless the Bombers are ready to dish out serious dough.
Then again … this would’ve made a mess of their payroll over the next two seasons, which is likely the last thing they would’ve wanted to do when you consider all the gymnastics they’ve conducted this offseason.
Let’s look at the potential financial implications here. The Yankees have about $3 million left to spend before hitting the $210 million luxury tax threshold. In any deal for Arenado, Urshela would have to go, which would clear another $4.65 million. Arenado’s luxury tax salary for 2021 is $30.55 million. That would’ve put the Bombers at $233 million for their ’21 payroll.
For 2022? Consider just Corey Kluber’s $11 million coming off the books and hypothetical raises for Zack Britton, Clint Frazier, Jameson Taillon, Chad Green, Judge, Torres, Sanchez, Voit and others. That’s just too complicated for general manager Brian Cashman to deal with right now.
Though this would’ve been sexy and given the Yankees a juggernaut team, they’re just fine with a more cost-effective option in Urshela and having a clear scope of their payroll for the foreseeable future.