USA TODAY International Edition

Arenado got wish in trade from Rockies to Cardinals

- Bob Nightengal­e Columnist

They were dueling Zoom calls, scheduled simultaneo­usly Tuesday, and while one was inquisitiv­e, the other was an inquisitio­n.

Owner Dick Monfort was on the Rockies call being asked whether he should sell the team (“You would like that,” he snapped) or at least fire their general manager (“No, but I have thought about firing myself.”)

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt was being lauded for his commitment to winning on his Zoom call (“We have an obligation to bring [ fans] the best team possible and the best players possible.”).

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich was being questioned whether the Nolan Arenado trade was a byproduct of organizati­onal failure (“If you’re looking to pass blame, you can blame me.”).

Cardinals President John Mozeliak, with Arenado’s jersey hanging behind him in his office, was talking about how their winning culture has players throughout the game wanting to play in St. Louis.

There were no laughs, zero smiles and an abundance of misery in the Rockies’ Zoom call.

The Cardinals’ was filled with joy and promise.

Man, what a difference a player makes.

The Cardinals spent the morning talking about their World Series dreams with the acquisitio­n of Arenado, while the Rockies spent theirs answering questions on why anyone would ever want to play in Colorado after watching a superstar plead to be traded.

The Rockies blamed Arenado for wanting out nine months after signing a franchise- record contract, saying he’s the one responsibl­e for the breakup.

“If we had our druthers,” Monfort said, “we would have Nolan Arenado. It was Nolan’s choice. He wanted to move on. That fact remains he felt like it was time to try something else out.”

Arenado, whose relationsh­ip with Bridich deteriorat­ed to a point where they didn’t speak, declined to blame anyone, saying there are no hard feelings or regrets.

“I think when you have a contract like mine, and you’re losing,” Arenado said, “usually a lot of these contracts get moved. That’s kind of what happened now. I signed there to be there for a long time. I wanted to win there, it didn’t work out, so you move on. I am going to miss my teammates. They are my brothers. My intent was to be there. But things change.”

Well, except in this case, it was Arenado who forced the decision. He signed his contract just four months after the Rockies won the 2018 National League wild- card game, a second consecutiv­e postseason appearance.

He was promised the Rockies would continue to build, surround him with more free agent acquisitio­ns, and be a threat to the Dodgers. Instead, they instead finished 52 games behind the Dodgers the last two years, and when he voiced his complaints he was criticized by Bridich, leading to their fallout.

“The relationsh­ip wasn’t always peaches and cream,” Bridich said. “There were some bumps here and there, relationsh­ips change over time. … There are relationsh­ips that last forever, but we are in a business where relationsh­ips don’t last forever. Commitment­s don’t last forever. In this case, Nolan’s desire was to move. We tried to honor that.

“If you’re looking to pass out blame, you can blame me.”

Well, in Denver that will be quite easy considerin­g the money they have blown on free agents in recent years, the brutal decision to let second baseman D. J. LeMahieu walk away and finally this trade that has Rockies fans burning with rage.

“I’m a fan. I truly am,” Monfort said, “so I understand how they feel. To be quite honest, I’d probably feel the same way.”

The Rockies actually tried to trade Arenado a year ago but there was minimal interest with his massive contract. They were determined to do it this time, believing that he would trigger his optout clause after the season, risking the remaining $ 164 million on his contract. So even though they only received a back- end starter in Austin Gomber, four marginal prospects, and even kicked in about $ 50 million, they thought it was better than receiving only a draft pick in compensati­on once he departed.

“We tried to get the greatest return possible,” Monfort said. “Many teams we talked to, deals made no sense. There were times in the last two weeks I didn’t think the St. Louis trade made sense.”

For the Cardinals, who even gave Arenado another opt- out clause after the 2022 season, they’re quite happy things worked out this way.

“I plan on sticking around,” said Arenado, who is in Scottsdale, Arizona, playing in the Phoenix Open golf proam. “I plan on staying here a long time. I know they care about winning, and I believe they’ll do everything to win.”

That’s a sentiment he once had about the Rockies – but considerin­g the Cardinals’ track record, he won’t be fooled again.

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