A trade of Nolan Arenado by the Rockies is "starting to look inevitable," Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote on Thursday. This is an escalation from Dec. 19, when Rosenthal wrote that a trade of Arenado was possible.
On Jan. 2, Rosenthal reported that in order to trade their franchise third baseman, the Rockies would "likely" need to receive a controllable first baseman or center fielder.
We explained here on Dec. 20 why Arenado is a near-perfect Mets trade target. And if Brodie Van Wagenen hasn't already gotten on the phone with the Rockies to discuss it, he needs to.
However, a trade for Arenado -- by the Mets or any other potentially interested team -- could be difficult to pull off due to a number of reasons.
The 28-year-old Arenado has seven seasons left on an eight-year, $260 million deal he signed before the 2019 season. Complicating things more than the boatload of money Arenado is owed is the fact that he has an opt-out after the 2021 season and a no-trade clause.
In order for any interested team to pay full freight for Arenado in terms of major league players and/or prospects, it's fair to believe that the Rockies will have to take on some of the money owed and/or Arenado will have to agree to void his 2021 opt-out.
If Arenado is willing to void the 2021 opt-out as a condition of any trade, he would almost certainly be a more in-demand commodity than he is right now.
For the Mets, a trade for Arenado -- if they're interested in one -- would likely be easier to pull off after the 2020 season.
As things currently stand, the Mets' Opening Day payroll for luxury tax purposes is likely to be around $200 million, which is $8 million shy of the luxury tax threshold. It's hard to see a scenario where the Mets exceed the $208 million threshold, let alone blast by it while acquiring a player such as Arenado or Mookie Betts.
After the 2020 season, though, things change.
Aside from the likelihood that Steve Cohen is influencing decision-making and infusing money by 2021 (or even as early as this summer) is the fact that the Mets' payroll commitments go down significantly, allowing for an acquisition of a superstar without having to exceed the luxury tax.
That superstar should be Arenado, who is a better fit than Betts, Francisco Lindor or Kris Bryant.
Whether the stars align (or if Arenado would even waive his no-trade clause to come to New York) remains to be seen, but the Mets need to try.