Take a deep breath Rockies fans. Exhale. Now, relax.
Yes, Nolan Arenado filed for free arbitration, the only arbitration eligible player on the Rockies roster who didn’t come to agreement.
And that means. … Nothing, absolutely nothing.
It means that the Rockies and Arenado are continuing to have their discussions not only on a contract for 2019 but beyond. If Arenado does go to arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision on whether to award Arenado the $24 million offered by the Rockies or $30 million request of his agent, will become a base figure the two sides can use to work out a long-term deal.
As Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich put it:
“Arbitration doesn’t mean a whole low. We’ve been communicating with Nolan for a why. We haven't set any deadlines or ultimatums in any sort of negotiations or any sort of situation with Nolan in the many, many years that he's been in the organization, so why now? I'm sure there may be more on the line now, in terms of his future, in terms of future dollars, than maybe there has been in the past.
"But we're going to work hard to keep things moving along. At some point, as negotiations always do, you're going to find a point where you're equally happy or equally unhappy. And that's where things get done or they don't. But things are fine. We'll keep things under wraps, under our hat for now, and just kind of keep plugging along."
The givens in the negotiations are simple:
n One way or the other, Arenado will set a salary record for an arbitration-eligible player, the Rockies $24 million offer is $1 million higher than the deal Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays agreed to moments before Donaldson’s here.
n The ultimate decision is going to come down on how much Arenado wants to stay in Colorado, and if he is willing to accept the idea that there may be more money dangled by an outside suitor.
n The fact that Arenado decided several years ago to switch agents from Scott Boras, who has a reputation for embracing free agency and a bottom-line mentality, to the Wasserman Group was an indication that Arenado is not dead that the most important factor is not necessarily the bottom line.
n And given the fact the Rockies are coming off back-to-back post-season appearances for the first time in history with a young nucleus, they do not feel a necessity to make a move before the season starts. They want to retain Arenado long-term, but the immediate focus is winning a division title for the first-time in history. The decision-making moment will be the July 31 trading deadline with a belief that if the Rockies are factors in the post-season race, they would be inclined to keep Arenado, long-term deal or not, to reach that post-season goal.
And Bridich has shown during his tenure as the Rockies general manager he believes internal matter stay internal, unlike to many of his modern-day peers. Remember the tantrum Troy Tulowitzki had when he was dealt to the Blue Jays, and moaned he was caught by surprise instead of being kept up to date on the trade talks.
At the end of spring training a year ago, the Rockies announced a six-year, $108 million deal with Charlie Blackmon that had been under discussion for nearly six months but had never been public until the ink was dry on the contracts.
Nothing has changed this year.
“We’ll keep things under the hat for now and keep plugging away,” said Bridich of the Arenado situation. “The fact we are here, talking about him; the fact we are here, talking about Nolan being the type of player he is, and the fact we are talking about some sore of shared interest in extending this relationship for a long period of time is a good thing.
“It means we appreciate him, and he has appreciated his time in the organization. No matter how it ends up, this has been a good thing for him and the organization. Obviously, we would love to see him stick around. We will see what happens.”
And given the history of the Bridich Regime in Colorado, it isn’t likely anybody will know what is going to happen until the “I’s” have been dotted and “T’s” have been crossed, and the deal is done.