DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado woke up Friday morning with a new one-year, $26 million deal, a record for an arbitration-eligible player, already in his pocket.
"More room to get better -- more records are out there," Arenado said.
The contract exceeded the $23 million deal that third baseman Josh Donaldson reached with the Blue Jays last year. Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich and owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort met with Arenado and his agent, Joel Wolfe, in California. The deal came together Thursday, a day before arbitration hearings are set to begin. Arenado was seeking $30 million while the club offered $24 million.
The deal could lay the foundation for the Rockies' stated goal -- a multiyear deal with Arenado, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2019 season. Bridich said that if the Rockies go over $200 million in a contract for Arenado, it was possible that such a deal could fit in a payroll that the club plans to "continue to grow responsibly."
Arenado, who turns 28 on April 16, said Bridich discussed the future of a club that has been to the postseason each of the past two years.
"I mean they have a plan and stuff, and didn't get too much into detail, but we had some lengthy conversations about what could happen," Arenado said. "It was really good and honest, and that's all you can ask for."
Last year, the Rockies reached a one-year, $14 million settlement with center fielder Charlie Blackmon in January to avoid arbitration. But the sides kept negotiating, and during the first week of the regular season they announced a six-year, $108 million agreement.
Here are the previous five record-setting deals for arbitration-eligible players:
• Donaldson, $23 million (January 2018)
• Bryce Harper, Nationals, $21.63 million (May 2017, for 2018)
• David Price, Tigers, $19.75 million (January 2015)
• Max Scherzer, Tigers, $15.53 million (January 2014)
• Prince Fielder, Brewers, $15.5 million (January 2011)
"It's pretty awesome any time you have records in this game," Arenado said. "It's an amazing accomplishment. I thank God I've stayed healthy and been able to compete and have had a great group around me."
Former Rockies player and current AT&T SportsNet broadcaster Ryan Spilborghs witnessed Arenado not celebrating, but practicing his craft Thursday at Cicerone Field at the University of California, Irvine -- where he normally takes fielding practice during the offseason.
Arenado has won National League Gold Glove Awards in each of his six seasons in the Majors, and in 2018 he claimed his third NL home run title with 38. In '15, he and Harper tied for the league lead with 42, and in '16 Arenado and Chris Carter tied for the NL lead with 41 homers.
This offseason, the Rockies have put their money into the left side of the infield. Alongside Arenado is shortstop Trevor Story, who avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5 million contract and is under club control for two more years.
The Rockies have one-year deals with all of their 2019 arbitration-eligible players -- Arenado, Story, right-handed starting pitchers Chad Bettis ($3.3 million) and Jon Gray ($2.93 million), left-handed starter Tyler Anderson ($2.63 million), lefty reliever Chris Rusin ($1.69 million), righty reliver Scott Oberg ($1.3 million) and catcher Tony Wolters ($960,000).
The Rockies' Opening Day payroll is expected to top $143 million once contracts for low-service-time players or higher-salaried players who earn spots are figured. Spotrac placed last season's total adjusted salaries at $143,968,544. Included in that figure was a long-ago settled $4 million payment to shortstop José Reyes, who was released in 2016.