DENVER (AP) — Nolan Arenado produces big numbers whether he steps into the batter’s box or up to the negotiating table.
The All-Star third baseman and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a $26 million deal to avoid arbitration on Thursday, the largest one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player.
“It’s a great number. Very happy,” Arenado wrote in a message to The Associated Press.
He and his side met with Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich to hammer out the historic deal.
Josh Donaldson set the previous mark at $23 million with Toronto last season. The 27-year-old Arenado was set to pass that record even if he went to arbitration. Arenado asked for $30 million earlier this month, while the Rockies offered $24 million.
“Means a lot, we had good dialogue,” Arenado said. “Very honest, very straight forward. Everyone has tough skin and sometimes you have to in business and I realized that firsthand. Was great.”
One short-term solution figured out.
On deck, perhaps another of the longer term variety.
Arenado becomes eligible for free agency after the 2019 season and figures to be the top player on the market next offseason.
That is, if he and the Rockies can’t work out a deal beforehand. The free-agent market has been highly unpredictable the past few offseasons, with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and many other free agents still without deals as spring training rapidly approaches.
For now, Arenado’s relishing in this moment.
“It feels good to have things settled,” said Arenado, a second-round pick by Colorado in 2009 who’s been an All-Star the last four seasons. “I think it’s good to have less things in the back of your mind and this is one of them. It’s (a) great day — great mutual respect between me, my agency and the club.”
Arenado has won a Gold Glove at third base in each of his six major league seasons. He is a career .291 hitter with 186 home runs, 616 RBIs and an .886 OPS. He batted .297 with an NL-leading 38 homers last season, finishing third in MVP voting while making $17.85 million.
Even more, he helped Colorado to a second straight postseason appearance and nearly the team’s first NL West title, before losing in a tiebreaker at Los Angeles in Game No. 163. The Rockies advanced by beating the Chicago Cubs in the NL wild-card game. They were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in the Division Series.
One thing’s for sure: Manager Bud Black certainly wouldn’t mind scribbling Arenado’s name into the lineup for years to come.
“I do think there’s a desire on both sides to get something done,” Black said. “I’m not in that loop on a regular basis. But regardless of what happens short-term or long-term, Nolan will be ready to play. He knows his purpose is to be a baseball player. And that’s what he does. He plays.”
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