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How Charlie Blackmon's deal impacts Nolan Arenado's future with the Rockies

Drew Creasman Avatar
April 4, 2018

The Colorado Rockies can absolutely afford to sign Nolan Arenado to a lucrative long-term extension.

Anyone who has watched him closely in his career doesn’t need justification for why this is a good idea, but briefly: he’s a generational talent and maybe the best defender at his position ever, he is one of the best clutch hitters in the game, if not the best, he is beloved by fans and teammates, and he has a remarkably easy to fathom path to becoming the single greatest player in the history of this franchise.

Now that we’ve established Colorado should offer their star third baseman whatever it takes to keep him in purple, maybe even for life, let’s take a look at what that might look like.

As it stands, Nolan is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season, making 2020 the year we need to examine in order to determine just how the Rockies can pull this off.

Pre-Blackmon Rockies 2020 Payroll:

Wade Davis: $17 million

Ian Desmond: $15 million

Jake McGee: $9.5 million

Bryan Shaw: $9 million

Chris Iannetta: $4.25 (club option)

Total: $50.5 million ($54.75 million)

If they choose to pick up Iannetta’s option—meaning that his play has warranted it—the absolute most Colorado has written in stone for their 2020 ledger is $54.75 million. That doesn’t sound like much but that was before the news of the Charlie Blackmon extension.

We don’t yet know the exact year-to-year breakdown of Blackmon’s deal but we know it averages out to $18 million a year and we know that he will be making $21 million in 2019. We’ve also seen with the Desmond deal that the Rockies like to get creative with how they structure these things, so let’s project a high end and a low end for what he is likely to make in 2020.

Charlie Blackmon: $21 million

Projected Total: $71.5 million ($75.75 million)

Blackmon will make $21 million in the first five years of the deal, coming down to $10 million if he picks up the sixth-year option. This brings our 2020 total to $71.5 million with a possibility for a little more if they hold on to Iannetta.

That’s not terrible, but it is for only six players.

Now, it’s Nolan’s turn. With this kind of talent, and at the age he will be signing a deal, the numbers can get insane. But Arenado has also made it clear how much he would love to play in one place his entire career. That is, as long as they are winning. Assuming the Rockies would be willing to add some player options and no-trade clauses similar to what they gave Blackmon, I could see the price on Arenado coming all the way down to an average value of about $25 million. Especially if Colorado is willing to dole out the years.

They’ve also just sent him a clear message about valuing loyalty, hard work and—most importantly—winning.

Nolan Arenado: 10 years, $250 million – $25 million AAV (10 years, $300 million – $30 million AAV)

At the higher end, it’s perfectly reasonable for Arenado to expect to get paid like a superstar in this game and for the Rockies to acquiesce. A 10-year, $300 million contract would make him among the highest paid players in the game at a time when those kinds of deals are becoming much less popular. It would be about on par with the 13-year, $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton originally signed with the Miami Marlins.

Projected 2020 Total with Arenado and Blackmon: $96.5 ($105.75 million)

2018 Budget: $141.4

Even at the highest end of our projections, with a huge deal for Arenado, the Rockies could still have just under $36 million to spend on the rest of their roster in 2020.

If Nolan signs a more team-friendly deal, Colorado could be looking at about $45 million for the rest of the group.

And that’s all without considering extra money that could be brought in from multiple postseason appearances and a pending need for a new TV deal.

Those wondering about the younger players getting more expensive, only Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray and Trevor Story will be in the second years of arbitration, keeping them relatively affordable, only pushing the budget if they’ve performed exceptionally.

After that, as those players reach higher levels of arbitration (where the real money is) and a few others—Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, etc—join them, most of the other big contracts will be coming off the books.

In 2021, the only guys under contract are Desmond and McGee, for a combined $17 million, and now Blackmon.

All offseason, pundits and fans have been suggesting the Rockies may be in for a kind of last hurrah in 2018. But the news of the Blackmon extension and it’s team-friendliness mean this team could be competing for the NL West crown well into the next decade.

And they can do it with their heart and soul—two of the greatest to ever pull on a Colorado Rockies jersey—leading them all the way.


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