(CBS4) – “This is certainly a happy day. A day for celebration.”
On Feb. 27, 2019, Jeff Bridich was on top of the world. The Rockies general manager sat in front of a crowd at Salt River Fields, ushering in a golden age of Rockies baseball.
“We are here to confirm a long term deal with Nolan Arenado,” he said.
The Rockies inked an historic $260 million deal with their All-Star third baseman, showing their commitment to winning a World Series.
“I really believe we can win. I wouldn’t make this decision if I didn’t believe that. I’m happy to be here for the long haul,” Arenado said after signing his mega contract.
Well, one offseason later, Arenado and Bridich are once again dominating Rockies headlines — but this time for all the wrong reasons. After a frustrating 71-91 finish to the 2019 season, the Rockies had a quiet offseason — too quiet for Arenado.
“For a player to vocalize his anger and distrust with an organization that has just signed him to a record deal, something had to go drastically wrong,” former Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh said.
“Reading between the lines on this one, I think Nolan expected an active offseason. When he signed the contract, he expected constant moves to make the team better,” MLB.com’s Thomas Harding said
The Rockies have done the opposite of what Nolan was expecting. Colorado is one of just two teams in the majors that spent $0 on big-league free agents this winter.
“The Rockies feel like the guys they have could play better next season and help the team win. They feel like they have a good enough team here. Nolan Arenado doesn’t quite agree with them,” Harding said.
The Rockies believe they have the pieces to contend, but history is on Nolan’s side. In the past decade, only three teams with a record as bad as Colorado’s turned around to win their division the following season. In all three instances, significant offseason were made.
And if the Nolan leaves, the fans will follow.
“The fans are squarely behind Nolan here,” Harding said.
“If it’s Nolan who leaves, there could be a mutiny in Colorado amongst the fans and players, and people are going to say this organization needs a drastic change,” Hirsh said.
Rockies Spring Training opens next month, and both Arenado and Bridich will be there — and it’s bound to be an awkward reunion. For what it’s worth, the rest of the club will do their best to keep it business as usual.
“Whatever happens, we’ll do a good job of handling it,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “I can’t speak for Nolan, but we’re just worried about our clubhouse and trying to win games. We’re all pros here and we’ll continue to act that way.”