All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado agreed to a one-year, $26 million deal with the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, setting a record for a one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player and avoiding a contentious hearing a year before he's slated to hit free agency.
"It feels good to have things settled," Arenado wrote in a message to The Associated Press. "I think it's good to have less things in the back of your mind and this is one of them. It's [a] great day -- great mutual respect between me, my agency and the club."
Arenado, 27, is one of the best two-way players in the game, winning Gold Gloves in his first six seasons and finishing in the top five in National League MVP voting the past three years. Over the past four seasons, his 158 home runs rank third in the major leagues and his 503 RBIs first, and the combination of those numbers plus his defense emboldened him to ask for a $30 million salary. When the Rockies countered at $24 million, the parties agreed to continue talking before a trial in which a three-person panel would have chosen one of the salaries.
"Means a lot, we had good dialogue," Arenado told the AP. "Very honest, very straight forward. Everyone has tough skin and sometimes you have to in business and I realized that firsthand. Was great."
Colorado's desire to lock up Arenado to a long-term deal is clear, according to sources, although just how amenable Arenado is -- or what sort of financial commitment it might take -- remains opaque. Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich flew to California to meet with Arenado, sources said, during which they negotiated the $26 million figure with agent Joel Wolfe.
While much of Arenado's market could depend on his performance in 2019, executives around the league are enamored with the notion of signing him. Similar sentiment, of course, was expressed last winter with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the two marquee free agents this offseason who remain unsigned despite pitchers and catchers being less than two weeks from reporting to spring training.