The Mets Should Not Trade for Nolan Arenado

The Mets Should Not Trade for Nolan Arenado

by November 2, 2020 2 comments

Nolan Arenado will be in trade talks this winter, but there are some red flags contributing to why the New York Mets should stay away from him.

Steve Cohen is now the new owner of the Mets and arrives with over $14 billion and a desire to win. Acquiring arguably the most notable third basemen in the league would make sense, right?

Not so fast.

Arenado is one of the biggest names in the game. Naturally, Mets fans want their front office to swing a trade so he can wear the orange and blue. However, sometimes the biggest names aren’t the ones that will help you win the most.

Decline in performance

One significant reason why the Mets should be hesitant to acquire Arenado is the recent decline in his overall performance. The seven-time Gold Glove winner is usually worth five wins above replacement (WAR) in a full season. In 2020, his WAR was 1.0 according to FanGraphs. In a regular 162-game season, it would have been just 2.7 according to Baseball Trade Values‘ blended WAR. His value was less than average third basemen, including Miami Marlins’ Brian Anderson, Maikel Franco of the Kansas City Royals, and Seattle Mariners veteran Kyle Seager.

Current Mets third baseman J.D. Davis was worth only one-half win less than Arenado, but was paid $32.7 million less than him ($35 million  to $2.3 million in 2020). According to FanGraphs, Arenado was worth just $7.6 million this past season, which is nowhere near what the Colorado Rockies are paying him.

A big concern for teams like the Mets who would pick up the phone to inquire about Arenado is his projected value is also declining. FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections believe that Arenado’s WAR will be 4.6 in 2021 and then go down to 3.7 in 2022, continuing to decline even further as his contract goes on.

Product of Coors Field?

You could also make the case that Arenado’s success is a product of his home ballpark. At Coors Field, he looks like he is headed to Cooperstown, hitting .322 with136 home runs and 461 runs batted in. On the road, he is hitting just .283 with 99 homers and 299 driven in. That means there is a good chance the Mets would not be getting the Coors Field Arenado in New York. Though it is a small sample size (23 games), Arenado is hitting an unimpressive .229 with a .275 on-base percentage while striking out 26.5 percent of the time in the batter’s box at Citi Field.

Additionally, Arenado is hitting .190 with one home run in five career Postseason games with Colorado.

The contract

While he does have an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, the loss in revenue among every team (combined with his performance decline) in 2020 means there is almost no chance he will walk away. He still has $164 million remaining in the last five years of his deal. If Cohen and the Mets were to acquire him, they would probably prefer for him to opt-out at the end of the 2021 season to avoid paying him that $164 million.

If the Mets did acquire him, they would be stuck with a contract worse than how David Wright‘s eight-year, $138 million extension ended up. According to Spotrac, Wright was paid a combined $27 million in dead money in 2019 and 2020.

Fans will argue the fact that their new owner has $14 billion in his pocket, but Arenado’s hefty contract would still count towards the luxury tax ($210 million in 2021). A team that goes over the luxury tax for the first time has to pay a 20 percent tax on all overages. If they do it again for a second-straight year, they are required to pay 30 percent. The tax increases to 50 percent for a third-straight violation.

Conclusion

Due to Arenado’s decline in performance, bad home/road splits, and a contract looking worse and worse every year, the Mets would better off sticking with J.D. Davis for now.

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  1. holmer
    #1 holmer 2 November, 2020, 12:37

    I agree whole-heartedly. Stay away from Arenado. The glove is great, his bat is very good, but his contract is odious. You can’t get saddled with those types of contracts and build something sustainable. The Mets already have Robinson Cano and his contract and the Mets can’t afford another one like that. It doesn’t matter how much money Cohen has, he didn’t get that rich by being stupid.

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