Trade rumors connecting Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals have bounced back for years, long before the Cardinals and Rockies finally reached a deal that ended on February 1.
The Cardinals’ interest in the All-Star third baseman was no big industry secret; He has long been seen as a perfect fit – the Golden Glove third baseman, the power hitter of the heart of the order – for the club’s needs. What we didn’t know, until Thursday night, was exactly how much that interest was mutual, how much Arenado wanted to become a cardinal.
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Not long after Arenado’s two-run home run in the eighth inning helped the Cardinals to a 3-1 win in their 2021 home opener against the Brewers on Thursday, the kind of home debut every player dreams of joining a new club, the St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright spoke to the media on a Zoom call.
Wainwright had started and pitched five one-career baseball innings, and of course, he was asked several questions about Arenado. He told a little story.
“The last year or two, (Arenado) would send me videos when he was trying to get traded here,” Wainwright said.
Let’s stop here for a second. Um … wow. That is a great revelation. Let’s not be naive and pretend that things like that don’t happen, but it’s still a bit surprising to hear it.
“He was like, ‘Hey, show this to Mo,'” Wainwright said. “And he’d be, in the middle of the offseason, taking grounders down the third base line and making his little jump from near the dugout, hitting a perfect shot, one after another after another.”
“Mo,” of course, is the Cardinals president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak. He has been the top decision maker in the organization for over a decade (aside from the ownership group, of course). He’s the one who eventually built the exchange that was seen as a massive heist for the Cardinals.
This may not be fun to read for Rockies fans, that their star player was thinking of playing for another club. And it’s fair to say that those folks at the main Colorado office, from owner Charlie Monfort to general manager Jeff Bridich, are probably quite upset by the reveal.
Let’s be very clear about one thing: There’s no evidence those offseason text messages had any impact on Arenado’s effort or production for the Rockies. Wainwright said “last year or two,” so let’s take a look at the previous two years.
In 2019, Arenado posted career highs in bWAR (7.3), OPS (.962) and average (.315), while hitting 41 home runs and driving 118. He was an All-Star for the fifth year in a row, winning a Gold for the seventh year in a row and finished sixth in the National League MVP vote.
And, yes, Arenado’s 2020 season was unsatisfactory by his own standards, but he still produced a 1.5 bWAR and hit eight home runs in 48 games while playing for a shoulder problem that sapped much of his power. The Rockies finally closed it with a “Inflammation of the left AC joint and a hematoma on the left shoulder”. Oh!
So the question is this: What did Wainwright do with those Arenado messages? Did you send them up the organizational ladder to Mozeliak?
“Oh yeah. I always sent them,” she laughed. “I always said, ‘Hey, I know you have a plan and you’re working on some things, but every time he sends them to me, I have to do my part and send them to you.’ Mo seemed to understand that. “
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Arenado’s turn at Zoom was before Wainwright’s turn, so the media had no opportunity to ask Arenado about texting. Arenado did talk about his excitement, playing for the first time as a Cardinal at Busch Stadium, and he received a curtain call after hitting the tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning.
“This was one of the best moments,” Arenado said with a big smile. “I’ve been lucky enough to hit a couple of home runs, hit a home run through the cycle once, and that probably beats this a bit. But he had never received a curtain call before. Getting one of those was just an amazing feeling. I’ve never had one. I was so excited. “
When Wainwright found out about “never knocking on the curtain,” he whispered, “Wow. That’s hard to believe” even before the reporter, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, finished asking his question.
“It’s really hard to believe it’s his first curtain call,” Wainwright said. “He’s done a lot of really good things in the world of baseball, so it’s very hard to believe. You’re going to get a bunch of them here. ”
Arenado is 1 of 1 so far, on winning home runs and curtain calls at Busch. Y, apparently that’s a true statement, although curtain calls are a long-standing tradition in St. Louis, motivated by a wide variety of reasons.
“He’s so focused on being a St. Louis Cardinals world champion player that you can’t even believe it,” Wainwright said. “The boy eats, sleeps, drinks and breathes baseball. And he wants to win just as badly as anyone who has ever been in my life, and he wants to win here. We are glad to have it. He is a winning player.
“We’ve been with him for two months, maybe not even, and I feel like he’s been here for 10 years. It fits very well in this clubhouse. ”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.