The 2019 Major League Baseball season is rapidly approaching. For manager Bud Black and the Colorado Rockies, they will try to build on their success over the past two seasons. However, with the departure of second baseman David John LeMahieu and relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, it will not be easy. In seven seasons with the Rockies, LeMahieu was a three-time Gold Glove winner as well as the National League Batting Champion in 2016. When the New York Yankees signed him to a two-year deal on January 14, it signaled the end of an era for Rockies fans. 10 days later, Ottavino also signed a deal with the Yankees which left the Rockies without two of their most consistent players since 2012. Given the turnover for the Rockies heading into Spring Training, it could be alarming for fans. There is one Rockie who can help ease fans’ nerves and he is third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The 27-year-old Arenado is preparing for his seventh season with the Rox. He quickly established himself as both an elite defender at third and a force to be reckoned with at the dish. Since making his MLB debut in 2013 with Colorado, Arenado has dazzled fans with his efforts in the field and at the plate. He became the first NL rookie to win a Gold Glove at third base. It was evident that he was going to be a special player for the Rockies. He went on to earn his second consecutive Gold Glove the following season despite missing 51 games due to an illness and a finger injury. Arenado continued to elevate his game in 2015 as he won yet another Gold Glove. Additionally, he was awarded the Field Bible. This award is given to the best defensive player at each position. Former teammate Troy Tulowitzki and Arenado are the only Rockies to win it.
As his career has progressed, Nolan Arenado has emerged as a star at the hot corner. In 2017, he finished with the highest field percentage of his career. With a percentage of .979, Arenado went on to win his first Platinum Glove Award which recognizes the best defensive player in each league. He ensured that his defensive efforts would not outshine what he accomplished in the batter’s box. 2017 is Arenado’s most dominant season offensively to date. He slugged .586 and had an OPS of .959. Arenado is quickly developing into one of the best to ever play third base. While he needs to improve upon his postseason play, he is a player who has an opportunity to take the Rockies to new heights.
The Colorado Rockies exceeded expectations in 2018. From almost capturing their first NL West crown to playing in their first NLDS since 2009, Arenado and company put the rest of Major League Baseball on notice. Even though it will be a tall task for them to enjoy similar success in 2019, the Rockies proved that they can compete with any team in baseball. If the Rockies are to make a third consecutive appearance in the postseason, Arenado needs to assert himself both on the diamond and in the clubhouse. As the 2018 season drew to a close, the Rockies’ bats went up in flames. Arenado himself managed just three hits in 16 at-bats when the calendar flipped to October. As a career .291 hitter, this lack of execution on baseball’s biggest stage is simply inexcusable. While he is only one player in the lineup, he was notoriously vocal, calling for his teammates to step up late last season. When a player of Arenado’s caliber calls his team out, but is unable to deliver himself, it could lead to some questions.
Having recently signed a new one-year deal worth $26 million, Nolan Arenado should be in the Rockies’ long-term plans. The loss of both LeMahieu and Ottavino is painful, but locking up Arenado beyond 2019 would help ease that pain. At 27, Arenado has plenty of baseball left in him and management hopefully sees the value of keeping him in purple pinstripes. To his credit, Arenado is more than deserving of a lucrative contract given his success since reaching the majors in 2013. However, his success or lack thereof this season may determine whether or not the Rockies see a future with him in it.
As long as number 28 is in the Mile High City, the Colorado Rockies have an opportunity to be a legitimate competitor in the National League. If he finds a new home in 2020, the Rockies may have to weather the storm that will likely come with Arenado’s departure. “Nado” deserves a chance to stay in Colorado as long as he pleases. Management should be prepared to open the checkbooks and make it happen. In 2019, Arenado is a Rockie and that should be music to the ears of all fans who bleed purple and black.