Arenado Trade Leaves Many Scratching Heads
Baseball experts baffled by Rockies deal

by Hank Lacey

With Major League Baseball’s spring training less than two weeks away, fans of the Colorado Rockies are lamenting the loss of star infielder Nolan Arenado in a Feb. 1 trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team’s explanation for the deal, which has been roundly criticized by observers of the sport as a giveaway, seems inconsistent with the likely overall financial health of the franchise. Weeks after the fact, many are still looking at the deal with confusion. 

“If we had our druthers, we would have Nolan Arenado,’’ Rockies owner Dick Monfort said during a Feb. 2 news conference. “It was Nolan’s choice. He wanted to move on.” 

The reality, though, is not so clear cut. Arenado had apparently grown dismayed by the failure of the team’s general manager, Jeff Bridich, to take seriously Arenado’s desire to play for a contender. The third baseman was quoted by the Denver Post in January 2020 as feeling “disrespected” by the team’s front office, particularly Bridich. That followed a disappointing season for the Rockies in 2019, when the Rox fell to 71-91 after two straight playoff seasons. “He got upset they weren’t building around him,” said USA Today national baseball columnist Bob Nightengale. 

Bridich must consider the expectations of his bosses, Dick Monfort and Charlie Monfort, owners of the Rockies since 2005. What those expectations are do not seem to be seriously constrained by the value of the franchise or its prospects for revenues. 

“The financial health is still very strong,” Nightengale said. “It’s at least a $2 billion franchise right now.” Forbes and Statista do not rate the team’s value quite as highly both valuing it at about $1.3 billion — but even that valuation indicates the Rockies are not in financial trouble. Nor is the team playing in a “small market,” despite the claim to the contrary advanced by Dick Monfort at the Feb. 2 press conference. 

This complete article appears in the Feb. 15 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read other articles from that issue, order a copy online. Subscribers can request a digital PDF of the issue.