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Column: Arenado makes Cardinals contender in NL and MLB
The St. Louis Cardinals took the baseball world by storm in the evening hours of Jan. 29 when it was reported they had acquired all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies.
Arenado broke into the MLB in 2013, and through eight seasons, he has made five all-star game appearances, received the National League Silver Slugger for third basemen four times and has won the NL gold glove for third basemen all eight years of his career.
The acquisition of Arenado fills the void at third base, a position the Cardinals have struggled to get production out of in recent seasons. The last time the Cardinals had a starting third baseman with a batting average above .270 was in 2017 when Matt Carpenter posted a .271 average.
Aside from a .253 average Arenado posted in a shortened, injury-riddled 2020 season, Arenado has hit below .270 one other time in his career, during his rookie year in 2013 when he posted a .267 average.
Obviously, there is a lot more to the game than batting average, and one of those aspects is what a player can do defensively. Arenado is not only among the game’s elite at his position — he is among the best in the entire MLB.
Arenado leads all active third basemen in fielding percentage with a .972, and that number is good enough for third all-time among third basemen.
The last Cardinals third baseman to win a Gold Glove was Scott Rolen in the 2006 campaign in which the Cardinals won the World Series.
The move clearly makes the Cardinals the favorite to win the NL Central, but in my opinion, it also solidifies them as a top five team in the NL and a team poised to make a deep run come October.
This move not only fills a void, but it also adds protection in the lineup for Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Arenado will likely hit in front of Goldschmidt or behind Goldschmidt which will be a benefit to both players.
Arenado said part of the attraction of the Cardinals is being able to wake up every day in contention to win.
“I made this decision based on hopefully going to a competitive team, a team that has great tradition,” Arenado said during his introductory press conference on Feb. 2. “And I believe St. Louis has that.”
As a fan, it is fun to think about the endless possibilities of adding Arenado to a lineup that already features Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and highly-touted prospect Dylan Carlson.
Which reminds me: the Cardinals acquired Arenado without giving up any of their top five prospects. They managed to keep Nolan Gorman, Matt Liberatore and Dylan Carlson.
During the Arenado introductory press conference, President of Baseball Operations John Mozaeliak also hinted there could be more to come.
“We might not be done,” Mozaeliak said. “There are always opportunities to keep looking."
The addition of an MVP-caliber talent in Arenado has Cardinals fans everywhere counting down the days until opening day, currently set for April 1 when the Cardinals will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to take on the Reds. First pitch is set for 3:10 p.m.