Nolan Arenado trade: Trevor Story, German Marquez should be hot names if Rockies are open for business

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Corey Seidman
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

2 more hot names if Rockies are open for business after Arenado trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

About a year after the Nolan Arenado trade rumors began, things finally came to a head late Friday night when the Rockies agreed to trade the superstar third baseman to the Cardinals, according to multiple reports.

The deal is not yet finalized and it's unclear who specifically is headed to Colorado. Per The Athletic, the Rockies are sending about $50 million to the Cardinals along with Arenado to help pay for what he’s owed. Arenado is due $199 million over the next six years and can opt out of the deal after 2021 and 2022.

It signals the likely start of an overdue rebuild for the Rockies, who have had an unbalanced roster unable to contend for much of the last decade. The Rockies made the postseason in 2017 with 87 wins and in 2018 with 91 wins but didn’t win a playoff game either year. Those are their only two postseason appearances since 2010.

Take the 2019 Rockies, for example. 

They had Arenado hit .315 with a .962 OPS, 41 homers and 118 RBI.

They had Charlie Blackmon hit .314 with a .940 OPS, 32 homers and 112 runs scored.

They had Trevor Story hit .294 with a .917 OPS, 35 homers and 23 stolen bases.

David Dahl hit over .300.

They lost 91 games and were 30+ games out of first place the entire month of September.

As has often been the case in the history of a franchise that entered the league in 1993, the Rockies don’t have nearly enough pitching.

It appeared they were making progress in 2018 when Kyle Freeland and German Marquez had two of the best seasons ever for Rockies starting pitchers. 

Freeland’s sinker/cutter combo kept the National League off-balance that year as he went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 33 starts.

Marquez, with two of the best breaking balls in the NL, went 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA and struck out 230 in 196 innings.

The Rockies thought they were set up for a little while with a young, productive 1-2 punch atop the rotation. But Freeland hasn’t been the same since the book on him grew. He has a 5.76 ERA with unsightly peripherals in 35 starts since 2018. Marquez, too, fell off in 2019 before a bounce-back 2020 in which he led the NL with 81⅔ innings.

Without Arenado, the Rockies will likely take an even bigger step back in 2021. And at this point, it would not be surprising if they used Story and/or Marquez as the enticing trade chips they are.

Story is a free agent after the 2021 season. He is one of five stud shortstops set to reach free agency at the same time, along with Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Javier Baez. All of them will be expensive, with Lindor and Story likely getting the two biggest deals.

The 28-year-old Story is much, much more than a Coors Field slugger. He is one of baseball’s best athletes — plus defense, plus speed and some of the best power in all of MLB. He’s also cut down on his lofty strikeout rate, reducing it from 34% in 2017 to 24% in 2020.

Story is in the same boat as Lindor before the Mets trade. The Rockies’ asking price for Story should be no lower than what Cleveland sought. In that deal, the Indians traded Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to New York in exchange for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, right-handed pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. Wolf was viewed as a Top 10 Mets prospect as recently as 2019, while Greene was a second-round pick in 2020.

Barring a series of unforeseen events, Colorado will be out of contention by the middle of the summer and the sharks will be circling Story. It makes obvious organizational sense for the Rockies to trade him this summer rather than let him walk for nothing but a draft pick.

Story would be an amazing fit here or practically anywhere else, but it’s hard to see the Phillies entering this conversation in a meaningful way, especially after they reached a two-year deal Saturday with Didi Gregorius. They are not rich in top prospects and cannot afford to part with the few they have, especially for a player they’d be unlikely to sign long-term. Story could legitimately get $200 million in his next contract. The Phillies already have three nine-figure deals on their books with Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler and J.T. Realmuto.

Truth be told, there is not a National League team that sticks out right now as a clear trade fit for Story. The Mets have Lindor. The Braves like their middle infield with Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. The Nationals have Trea Turner at short. Nobody in the NL Central (aside from the Cardinals, who had done nothing all offseason before this week) is in buy-mode. Trading Story to the Dodgers or Giants is probably not something the Rockies want to do.

As for Marquez, he’s in a different situation. He is in the third year of a five-year, $43 million contract. The way it’s structured, Marquez’s most expensive years are ahead, which is why he could become a popular trade candidate for a team looking to reset.

Marquez is owed $7.8 million in 2021, $11.3 million in 2022 and $15.3 million in 2023. There is a 2024 club option at $16 million that can be bought out for $2.5 million. So the total remaining guarantee as of today is $36.9 million for three seasons — three seasons when the Rockies will need a ton of luck to make the playoffs.

That is a great price for a starting pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential, especially outside Coors Field. In 39 road starts the last three seasons, Marquez is 18-10 with a 3.08 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and 249 strikeouts in 251 innings. Those are ace-like numbers.

In Denver over that span, Marquez is 12-12 with a 5.47 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.

At home, he’s been Vince Velasquez. On the road, he’s been Aaron Nola.

If Marquez becomes available, teams will be lining up. He has the stuff, he’s shown he can be great away from Coors Field, and he turns 26 a week into spring training.

A team in the Phillies’ position with three giant contracts should be looking specifically for players like Marquez, whose value substantially outweighs what he’s owed. A rotation with all of Nola, Wheeler, Marquez and Zach Eflin would be really, really good. But almost every team will be after Marquez, and again, it’s going to cost the quality and quantity of top prospects the Phillies will be hesitant to part with. The asking price for Marquez should be pretty similar to what the Rays wanted for Blake Snell.

Subscribe to the Phillies Talk podcastApple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube