National League Landscape Changed By Huge St. Louis Cardinals Trade
I've been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since 1982 when my Little League team took a trip to an Iowa Cubs game where I bought a St. Louis Cardinals pennant. Days later, I heard Jack Buck calling a Cardinals game on the radio. I credit Buck, the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, for two things in my life: My love of the Cardinals, and my path to a long career in broadcasting. You can bet that Jack, who passed away in 2002, has a huge smile on his face now that one of the biggest trades in Cardinals history is official.
Monday night, the Cardinals completed a six-player trade for Colorado Rockies 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado, one of the premier players in baseball. The Rockies also gave the Cardinals $50 million toward Arenado's contract which he signed with the Rockies after the 2018 season. At the time, the 8-year deal was worth $260 million.
The Cardinals gave up left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber, who made four starts in 2020. They also sent four minor-leaguers to Colorado, only one of them considered one of the top ten prospects in the Cardinals organization.
Arenado has played eight seasons with the Rockies and has won the National League gold glove for third basemen every season. Four consecutive seasons, from 2015 through 2018, he was named the best hitting third baseman in the National League, winning the Silver Slugger award each season. In his eight-year Major League Baseball career, Arenado has hit .293. He's clobbered 235 home runs, driven in 760 runs, and has more than 1200 hits.
As you might imagine, the trade is not being well-received in Colorado. The Denver Post called it the "dumbest trade in Colorado sports history."
Cardinals fans like me, and the entire city of St. Louis, are in shock. Comparisons are being made to the 1964 trade between the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. That was a six-player trade, with the Cardinals receiving only Lou Brock. There was one big difference. At the time, Cardinals fans thought the move was a bad one. In a story about the trade, Baseball Hall quoted Mike Shannon, a current Cardinals broadcaster who played for the Redbirds at the time: "They wanted to run our GM Bing Devine out of town at first. But as players, we knew the possibility of Lou." They were right. Brock was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
The Arenado trade makes the Cardinals the favorite to win the National League Central. The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are still considered the teams to beat in the senior circuit, according to MLB.com.
The addition of Arenado transforms a Cardinals lineup that's been desperately seeking more productivity and protection for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who the Cardinals got in a trade prior to the 2019 season. Below is one possible batting order for the 2021 Cardinals.
The first spring training games of 2021 are currently scheduled for Saturday, February 27. During the regular season, the Cardinals are scheduled to wrap up a four-game season in Denver on the 4th of July. Whatever the Rockies team looks like then, you can bet they'll hope to produce some fireworks on the field in that series. Let's get the season started. I can't wait.