MLB Hot Oven: Nolan Arenado Refuses to Use Opt-Out to Become a Free Agent and Stays with Cardinals

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St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado has informed the team that he will not be exercising his buyout clause this offseason, reports The Athletic. CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden confirmed the news. The seven-time All-Star has five years and $144 million left on the contract. He could have opted out and tested the free hand, but will remain with St. Louis instead.

“I would just say that I am optimistic that this will have a positive resolution and as I said before I hope we get news on this sooner rather than later. I don’t think it’s about revising the deal. He’s just trying to use his time and sort out some things,” Cardinal John Mozeliak, who is present at baseball operations, said earlier this week when asked about Arenado’s opt-out (per MLB.com). “He asked questions about it , how we feel about the club, what we are thinking about in the future and topics like ‘How will we use our resources?’ “It was a very positive conversation. Again, I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can get to a point where we’re both very happy and have that understanding. He just wants a little time to think about it.

Arenado, 31, recently ended his second season with the Cardinals after disagreements with the Colorado Rockies front office caused him to leave Denver. Under the terms of the trade, the Rockies will pay $16 million of Arenado’s $35 million salary in 2023. Arenado will be Colorado’s second-highest-paid player next season, behind Kris Bryant.

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Arenado has a .293/.358/.533 batting line in 2022 with 42 doubles and 30 homers. He also played his typically brilliant defense at third base – Arenado has won the last nine NL Gold Gloves in the hot corner and he is a finalist again this year — leads to 7.9 WAR. Only New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge (10.6 WAR) was better in position.

The free agent third base market has been thin this offseason, with Brandon Drury and Jace Peterson representing the top players available after Arenado pulled out of the market. The remaining five years of Arenado’s contract cover his age range of 32-36. For reference, Anthony Rendon will earn $188 million in the same five-year streak of his career. Arenado is a good value for the Cardinals at $144 million.

Adam Wainwright announced earlier this week that he would be returning for another season. Now that Arenado is also returning, the Cardinals will shift their focus to replacing retired Yadier Molina behind the plate and maybe adding a shortstop. More pitching depth, especially in the bullpen, could also be on the off-season shopping list.

St. Louis went 93-69 and won the NL Central that season, being swept in two games in the Wild Card Series by the Philadelphia Phillies, who later won the NL pennants. Arenado went 1 to 8 in the two games.



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