Nolan Arenado gets record $26M in arbitration, could long-term extension be next?

Yahoo Sports

The Colorado Rockies and Nolan Arenado agreed to a deal Thursday, though not the one their fans have been pushing for. Arenado and the Rockies came to terms on a record one-year, $26 million deal in arbitration. The move ensures Arenado will be paid well during his walk year in Colorado.

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Arenado was arbitration-eligible for the final time heading into the offseason. When it came time for the 27-year-old star to exchange figures with the Rockies, he decided to ask for $30 million. The Rockies counted with $24 million. Instead of going to a hearing, the two sides agreed to compromise at $26 million.

While Arenado had to come down from his initial ask, the fact that he avoided a hearing could bode well for his long-term future with the franchise, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Had Arenado gone to a hearing, it could have set him up for an awkward final season with the Rockies. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote up an excellent breakdown of arbitration that explains why that could be the case.

Nolan Arenado set an arbitration record before heading into his walk year. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Nolan Arenado set an arbitration record before heading into his walk year. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Hearings play out like court cases. One side represents the player, the other side represents the team. The player’s side points out the positives, arguing that the player deserves a bigger raise. The team’s side is tasked with pointing out negative stats and the player’s deficiencies to try and convince a panel of arbiters that the salary number the team submitted is more accurate.

As Jake Odorizzi explained in Topkin’s piece, it’s not easy to listen as your team points out all your flaws.

“It’s pretty much all negatives,’’ Odorizzi shared. “They start off with an introduction, they say they still like you as a player obviously because you’re still part of the team, and this and that. And that’s when the law firm they hired starts going into why they don’t believe you’re worth what money you requested, and x, y, and z is why they believe that.”

“Sitting on the other side of the table, you’re so pumped from hearing all the good things about you from your side that when the negative starts coming in it kind of (ticks) you off a little bit.”

Avoiding a hearing should keep the relationship between Arenado and the Rockies positive during his final season with the team. That could make it easier for the Rockies to convince Arenado to sign an extension before he hits free agency. The team was able to do that with outfielder Charlie Blackmon.

Arenado could prove tougher to extend. Generally, players who hit free agency make more than players who agree to extensions. While free agency has been slow the past few winters, Arenado would stand to make a significant amount of money should he hit the market.

Now that arbitration has been taken care of, both sides can focus on finding a way for Arenado to stay in Colorado long-term. While the lure of free agency might prove to be too tempting for Arenado, at least the Rockies avoided trashing their franchise player months before trying to extend him.

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