If your initial reaction to the news of Nolan Arenado getting traded to the St. Louis Cardinals was to scream an obscenity, congratulations, you are not alone. As far as the Brewers are concerned, this trade is bad news.
It was bad enough when the Cardinals traded for slugger and Brewers killer Paul Goldschmidt a few years ago. Now they added yet another Brewers killer in Arenado? And both are under contract for the next several seasons? Kiss that division title goodbye, right?
This may be the extremely optimistic side of me coming out, but Arenado is going to a pitcher’s park in St. Louis and his home/road splits aren’t pretty. For his career at Coors Field, Arenado is a .322 hitter with a .985 OPS. Whenever he’s away from the thin air of Denver, Arenado hits a more pedestrian .263 with a .793 OPS.
Those are still good numbers on the road that a lot of hitters would love to have as their overall stats, but it’s quite the drop off. Now spending half his games in the pitcher-friendly confines of Busch Stadium, Arenado may no longer be the world-beater he was in Colorado.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals adding Nolan Arenado makes them the favorites to win the NL Central, and the Brewers will have to make a big addition of their own if they’re going to keep pace.
The poor road splits for Arenado is really the only beacon of light with this trade news, and even then, it’s pretty faint. Even if his offense does take a little bit of a downturn, his defense will still be very strong and he’ll hit enough to be a major upgrade for the Cardinals at a key position.
Arenado’s A Brewers Killer
Throughout his career, Nolan Arenado has played 34 games against the Brewers. In those games, he’s had 150 plate appearances. Here’s what he’s done: .358/.427/.701 slash line with a 1.128 OPS, 48 hits, 10 doubles, three triples, 10 homers, with 14 walks and 14 strikeouts. That qualifies him as a Brewers killer.
This trade also means Arenado is going to be playing the Brewers 19 times a season now instead of six, and there will be nine or ten games a year in American Family Field as opposed to just three games previously.
At the stadium previously known as Miller Park, Arenado has hit .397/.461/.838 with six doubles and eight home runs. Over half of his hits went for extra bases at the Brewers home ballpark.
He’s been nothing but a thorn in the side of the Brewers and now he’s going to face the Crew far more often and help out a division rival.
Corner Infield Rivalry
David Stearns is sure to be extremely envious of the corner infield situation in St. Louis. The Cardinals have Goldschmidt and now Arenado at the corners, two of the very best in the league at their positions. What do the Brewers have at those positions? Daniel Vogelbach and Luis Urias. Which situation do you prefer better?
The Cardinals have now taken one of the top third baseman in the league off the market and he’s now theirs for the near future. That’s one less player the Brewers can acquire to fill their own needs (not that they could’ve afforded Arenado anyways).
Yes, the Brewers do have some advantages over the Cardinals at other positions, but the sheer size of the advantage the Cardinals have at the corner infield is cause for concern.
If the Brewers want to be competitive for the division title in 2021, they are going to need to make a move. A big one would be nice, but with a limited payroll and a farm system that still isn’t ready to bear fruit, that might be difficult. Stearns was in a tough position before and the Arenado trade just makes his position that much tougher.
Additions of players like C.J. Cron and Maikel Franco to fill the corner infield may be sensible moves, and smart moves, but after St. Louis’ big addition, it may not be enough to put this Brewers team over the top.
The fact that the Rockies didn’t even get someone like Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman back in return for Arenado is also hurting, as the Cardinals didn’t give up much from their farm system to make such a big move.