Nolan Arenado Would Rather Lead the Rockies Than Test the Market

Nolan Arenado Would Rather Lead the Rockies Than Test the Market

Arenado is the leader, the way another single-franchise third baseman, George Brett, was for the Kansas City Royals.

“The characteristics are very similar,” said Rockies Manager Bud Black, who won a World Series with Brett in 1985. “How they play, their performance, the little things — first guy to the ballpark, in most cases the last guy to leave — truly caring about the organization, a burning desire to win. It’s tough to teach those intangibles; it’s about the person. There’s 750 big leaguers out there, and there’s a lot of guys who have those things, but they don’t have the talent as well.”

Few can match Arenado’s talent. He is one of only two players to win six consecutive Gold Gloves while also leading his league in homers at least three times. The other is the Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who said last year that Arenado was his heir apparent as the greatest third baseman ever.

Even so, Arenado does not even have the most lucrative contract among National League West third basemen. Manny Machado signed the richest free-agent deal ever last week, for $300 million over 10 years with the San Diego Padres. That makes two exorbitant deals for mid- to small-market franchises in the same division, even as several prominent free agents remain unsigned.

“That’s some of the best talent in the game,” Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said, “and we also added veteran players into mix. We added Daniel Murphy, they brought me in, Ian Desmond, Wade Davis. You don’t have to be the Red Sox and the Yankees to tap into that pool and make yourself competitive.”

Dick Monfort, the Rockies’ owner, said that while Colorado must be careful with the length of contracts, “We can operate on an A.A.V. with anybody” — referring to average annual value. In mapping out the team’s next several years, Monfort said, he could not imagine a scenario without Arenado.

“He’s a guy that needs to be a Rockie,” Monfort added.

Arenado’s contract sets another threshold for Bryce Harper to clear in his protracted free agency, which now seems to also be focused on the N.L. West. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, has met in recent days with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, seeming to support the theory that Harper would rather play in the West than for the Philadelphia Phillies, another suitor.

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