Available or not, Mets should stay away from Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado. (John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)

Lost within the fallout from the Astros’ cheating scandal and the onslaught of injuries experienced by the Yankees this spring is the precarious situation of Nolan Arenado’s future with the Colorado Rockies and how a trade is deemed to be unavoidable. 

That’s an almost unfathomable idea compared to a little over one year ago when the All-Star third baseman inked an eight-year, $260 million extension to avoid free agency in 2019. 

But things have gone south and soured quickly in the Mile High City. 

The Rockies went 20 games under .500 last season and upper management did little to improve the roster — which was billed to Arenado as one that will be going for it if he signed that massive contract extension. 

It led to a fallout of sorts between him and general manager Jeff Bridich before exploratory trade talks that eventually went nowhere. 

As we prepare for the 2020 season though, it only feels like a matter of time before one of the game’s best at the hot corner is traded — whether that’s during the final stretches of spring training (which is unlikely), July’s trade deadline, or next winter. 

The mere prospect of Arenado’s availability on the trade market has had many fans and analysts frothing at the mouth over the idea of adding a star of the 28-year-old’s caliber. 

Looking at the numbers alone, Arenado has been one of the more consistent sluggers in the league since 2015. 

He’s led the National League in home runs three times in the past five years, eclipsing the 40 round-tripper mark thrice while going no lower than 37. He also drove in at least 110 runs in each of the last five seasons while slashing .300/.362/.575. On top of that, he’s one of the best defenders in the game, winning seven Gold Glove Awards.

Who wouldn’t want those kinds of numbers on their team?

Even SNY — the Mets’ television station owned by the Wilpon family — ran a piece earlier this month spurring the organization to “pounce” on Arenado if he is made available. 

While the prospect of acquiring Arenado and having him under team control for the next seven years is all fine and dandy, let’s pump the brakes here for a moment. 

Just think of what the Mets would have to give up for Arenado. 

It would be an overwhelming package that would begin with third baseman Jeff McNeil and possibly even JD Davis while featuring any sort of competent prospects within the Mets’ already-thin farm system. 

McNeil has developed into one of the best pure hitters in the game, slashing .321/.383/.513 in 196 career games and should be a fixture near the top of the Mets’ lineup for years to come. 

He’s also become a vital part of the team’s core that also features Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, and even Dominic Smith. Shipping him out of town for a player that makes his frustrations clear during rough patches will only damage the seemingly-high chemistry within the clubhouse. 

At least for the time being, McNeil is exactly what the Mets need compared to Arenado. This is a high-on-base, professional hitter whose offense is not reliant on overwhelming power in big situations. 

To put it plainly, he’s an expert table-setter for the big bats of Alonso, Conforto, and maybe even Yoenis Cespedes if he can put together anything that resembles a full season. 

McNeil has also proven that he can excel in his style of game in any environment. 

That can’t be said for Arenado, despite the impressive numbers throughout his career. This is the main argument though with most offensive stars that play their home games in the thin air of Denver. 

Arenado’s home and away splits are incredibly stark throughout his career. 

In 515 home games at Coors Field, he’s slashing .324/.380/.615 with 129 home runs and 446 RBI. 

In 516 games on the road, those numbers drop to .265/.323/.476 with 98 home runs and 288 RBI.

Those numbers get even worse while playing at Citi Field, though it is worth noting that he’s had to face some pretty difficult pitchers throughout his time against the Mets in Queens. 

But in 23 career games, he’s slashing .229/.275/.410 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI. That’s an 81-game pace — or a full season of home games — of 14 home runs and 35 RBI.

This article is in no way trying to detract what Arenado has done over the last seven years in Major League Baseball. He is a premier talent who would make a majority of the teams around the league better. 

For the Mets, however, it might just be best to stay the course with the promising foundation that has been built. 

Granted, it would be shocking if the Wilpons OK’d a move that would bring such a massive contract back to Queens in the first place.