Yankees Rumors: Nolan Arenado trade could cause problems (and it's not up to Yanks)

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

This past offseason, Nolan Arenado opted back into the St. Louis Cardinals, even when it seemed like a Manny Machado-like additional extension might've been on the table for him.

Just three months of baseball and one nightmare half later, Arenado might be back on the market after all, less than three years after he was initially traded out of Colorado. It's not his fault, but the 32-year-old has witnessed an unforeseen collapse. Baseball's a business. And, when that happens in business, it usually doesn't turn out well for the faces of the collapsing product.

Arenado comes with an onerous contract and regressing defense, according to key metrics (on June 15, he somehow graded out with -1 DRS, despite averaging +15 throughout his career). His offense, while still excellent and a vast improvement on the Yankees' current lineup, is not upper-echelon elite (129 OPS+ at the break, in line with his career averages, after an outlier 151 mark last season).

And, on top of everything, Arenado's the one member of the Cardinals' potential fire sale who still controls his own destiny -- he's armed with a no-trade clause, and can ruin the Yankees' plans all by his lonesome.

Considering every factor involved -- the size of the prospect package that could entice the Cardinals to go a step further than they're comfortable with, the visible statistical regression, the aging curve, and his ability to simply shake his head "no" -- it's fair to be concerned with the Yankees inheriting another massive contract for a player on the wrong side of 30.

Nolan Arenado Contract Details: Should Yankees absorb another large contract for an aging player?

Just to remind you once more, these are the totals still owed to Arenado, if he does decide to approve a trade to New York and cross a hundred hurdles. Halve that 2023 number, then accept the rest in totality (the Cardinals, in theory, are trying to get rid of this deal, not eat a portion of it to clear Arenado's path).

  • 2023 - $35 million
  • 2024 - $35 million
  • 2025 - $32 million
  • 2026 - $27 million
  • 2027 - $15 million

These numbers shouldn't hamstring the Yankees. They're the Yankees. But less money owed to Giancarlo Stanton long-term has managed to hinder New York's last several offseasons. Even Josh Donaldson's two-year commitment helped wreck the past few winters, offensively. There's no reason to believe Arenado's totals wouldn't concern Hal Steinbrenner even further.

Arenado would help the Yankees in 2023, 2024 and 2025, but not as much as the name "Nolan Arenado" would have you think. The Yankees shouldn't consider a complete sell-off and ensuing tank job, but if they could keep themselves unencumbered with more long-term risks at this pivot point, that would be extremely helpful in gaining back some of the flexibility they've recently lost (and, let's be real, they've willingly lost).

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were the correct long-term commitments, back in 2019. They always were. They always will be. Arenado would've been excellent back then, too. Now? Just like the mystery of why defensive metrics no longer love him, it's at least a question mark.

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