ST. LOUIS – MVP hopeful and perennial Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado has an important decision to make in the near future: Whether or not to exercise a possible opt-out in his current contract.
Arenado is coming off one of his strongest seasons ever in his second St. Louis Cardinals campaign, hitting .293 with 30 homers, 103 RBIs and a career-low strikeout rate. His 7.9 WAR ranked best among National League position players last season.
When the Cardinals acquired Arenado and inherited his contract, it came with possible opt-out clauses after the 2021 and 2022 season. After deciding not to opt out last season, Arenado will be required to make a decision no later than five days after the 2022 World Series ends.
John Mozeliak, President of Baseball Operations with the Cardinals, met with Arenado earlier this week over the contract situation.
“I went out and met with him on Monday to discuss the situation, and very hopeful there is some resolution shortly,” said Mozeliak in a season wrap-up news conference Wednesday. “I’m optimistic that this will have a positive resolution. I hope that’s something we get some news on sooner rather than later.”
Arenado has been adamant on winning since joining the Cardinals. He’s coming off back-to-back postseason bids and his first division title in 10 MLB seasons. Despite a tough postseason, 1-for-8 with 1 run scored, some analytics believe Nolan Arenado could command more on the open market right now than what he is owed in the remainder of his contract.
Since Arenado originally signed a contract extension with the Colorado Rockies in 2019, four infielders have signed deals with higher annual values. It’s possible he could exceed the current leading third-base money maker, Anthony Rendon, at his current $35 million annual clip. For how many years, given he will turn 32 next season, would be unknown.
If he maintains his current deal, Arenado will earn $144 million over the next five seasons. If Arenado opts out, the Cardinals could possibly restructure some terms of the current remaining contract in hopes he returns for five or more seasons.
Arenado offered the following insight when asked about his time with the Cardinals on Oct. 8, the night they were eliminated from the 2022 postseason.
“I love it here. I love the guys and I feel like I fit well with this organization. … I feel like I fit well here. I feel like the city appreciates me. I’ve really loved it here.”
Arenado has a .293 batting average, 235 home runs and 760 RBIs over 10 MLB seasons, his first eight with the Rockies and his last two with St. Louis. He won a Gold Glove in each of his first nine years and is nominated for one again for this past season’s defensive accomplishments. Ensuring his return could be a top priority for the Cardinals after longtime franchise faces Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols played their final MLB games a few weeks ago.