SCOTTSDALE, Az. – In the days leading up to Nolan Arenado’s agreement on a record-setting contract with the Rockies, the idea of spending his entire career with Colorado was broached.
“It would be pretty cool to be one of those guys that stays with one organization their whole career,” Arenado said. “It just doesn’t happen anymore. I’d like to change that.”
Truth of the matter is, it never happened much, lately or decades ago.
Among the 110 players to appear in 2,000 or more big-league games, only 21 player their entire career with one organization.
Eighteen of them played at least half their career since the start of expansion in 1961, and 13 of them have spent their entire career in the expansion era, including former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who played each of his 2,247 big-league games in a Colorado uniform.
And Helton, who was on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, along with former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams are the only two of the 21 who has not been inducted in the Hall of Fame.
Get the picture?
It takes a special player to find a big-league home and settle in for an entire career.
Arenado, who is four weeks shy of six full seasons in the big leagues and has appeared in 876 big-league games, has taken a step in that direction.
While final details were being worked out on Tuesday and an official announcement won’t be announced until Wednesday, sources have confirmed that Arenado has agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract, the largest annual average salary ($32.5 million) annually for a non-pitcher in Major League history, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
The deal, similar to the one Charlie Blackmon signed a year ago, allowed Arenado to opt for free agency after three years, a protection for him in case things were to go bad with the Rockies, and they would decide to do a roster overhaul, or if the market would explode even more in the next couple of years.
That, however, does not mean the Rockies would lose him to another organization if he opted out of the new contract. They would have the opportunity to renegotiate and retain Arenado, if both sides were agreeable.
There was plenty of speculation of what Arenado might be able to fetch on the open market as a free agent after the coming season in light of the $300 million deal Manny Machado signed with the Padres recently.
Arenado, however, was more than satisfied with the above-board negotiations with the Rockies, the organization that originally signed him as a second-round draft pick out of high school.
It brought back memories of when Todd Helton worked out his final contract with the Rockies, which paid him nearly $150 million, and was asked if he thought about the possibility of getting a bigger deal on the open market.
“If my great grandkids aren’t taken care of with this deal then there’s no amount of money that would ensure their well-being,” he said.
Much like Helton, Arenado has found a comfortable home in Colorado, where he has become the face of the franchise. And he is not oblivious to that.
“It’s such a great place,’’ Arenado said in discussing reasons he would consider skipping free agency and remaining with the Rockies, “I really enjoy the fact there’s a comfortability here. You know the coaches. You know the players. Some of my best friends are on this team.
“I grew up here in this organization, so it feels like home in a way. I’ve been here since the tide has changed, and that’s a really good feeling. I was part of that change. You want to win in a place where you’ve been all of your life.’’
With the new deal in place, Arenado will have that opportunity – if he wants.
And if things don’t work out, the Rockies have provided him with the opportunity to move on, at his own discretion.