Padres: NL West just got weaker after Rockies trade Nolan Arenado

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Although the Colorado Rockies were a far cry from being considered legitimate contenders in the National League West, they just took a big step backward, at least in the short-term.

The Padres saw their division foe trade superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday in exchange for $50 million in salary relief and a package of prospects, none of whom ranked in St. Louis’ upper echelon of talent. It sure feels like the Rockies were ready to simply do whatever it took to get Arenado’s contract off their books.

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He’s got near-$200 million left on that deal, but to even try to make the case he’s not one of the game’s premier players would be foolish. On both sides of the ball, Arenado can go blow-for-blow with anyone in the game. That’s not up for debate.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, the former second-rounder struggled offensively, managing a measly 84 OPS+. Still, he brought home the eighth Gold Glove of his career. In other words, he’s won the honor every single season he’s been in the league.

He’ll team up with another familiar face to Padres fans in former Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt as the anchors for the Cardinals in 2021. That duo certainly has the potential to be lethal in a National League Central that, to put it mildly, is very winnable.

Padres have the chance to capitalize in the NL West

As for the Padres, although the road to their first NL West crown since 2006 wasn’t going to go through Colorado per se, as a division foe, San Diego will see plenty of the Rockies this year. A Nolan Arenado-less lineup is far less imposing.

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Last year, en route to a Wild Card spot in the postseason, the club went 7-3 against the Rockies. The only team they did better against? Another division member, the San Francisco Giants (8-2). A key part of being an elite team is beating the team’s you’re supposed to beat and, after the Arenado trade, that just got a little easier for San Diego