Rox would be wise to lock up Arenado long term

January 5th, 2018

With an eye on the present, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich has taken care of the pressing matters in the past month. He brought back a Rockies original, catcher Chris Iannetta, and he revamped the bullpen by not only retaining lefty Jake McGee, but also by luring right-hander and closer off the free-agent market.

Now comes the challenge of deciding if the time has arrived for Colorado to do some serious soul-searching about the long-term picture, with the focus on .

Arenado is the personification of the Rockies. He's the underdog who keeps coming out on top. Playing in what Curt Gowdy referred to as the "forgotten time zone," (Mountain time), Arenado might not get the hype of a or a , but he has earned the attention.

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And Colorado is well aware of that. That's why the Rockies have to be asking themselves if the time is right to sit down and work out a multiyear deal that would keep Arenado in a Colorado uniform for seven, eight, nine, maybe even 10 more years.

Why now? Because the Rockies have a bit of leverage. They have control of him for two more years. He's in the second year of a two-year deal signed last January, which will pay him $17.75 million for the coming season, and then he will be arbitration-eligible one last time a year from now.

Here's what sets Arenado apart from so many others: He will play this season at the age of 27.

So if the Rockies were to put together an eight-year offer, he would be 34 in its final year. Now, that doesn't guarantee anything. Injuries can happen at any age. But it does reduce the odds. The contract would cover years very much in the big-picture prime of an athlete's career.

So you take the $17.75 million Arenado already will earn in 2018 and wrap it into a package that would earn him, say, $160 million or so, and a decision would come down to how much being with the Rockies and being financially set for life would mean to him.

Arenado has said more than once the most important thing for him is being with an organization that has a chance to win a World Series. Based off a year ago and given the youth of the roster, the Rockies would seem in prime position to have that opportunity for more than a year or two.

OK, Colorado was the second National League Wild Card team in 2017, and it was eliminated by the D-Backs in the NL Wild Card Game. But what gets lost in the analysis from afar is that this is a team that enjoyed success despite early-season challenges that could have crippled the Rockies on the field.

Before Opening Day had even been played, the Rockies were without:

• Their projected veteran of the rotation, , who was battling testicular cancer.

• Their projected starting catcher, Tom Murphy, who fractured his right forearm when, in attempt to throw out a runner at second base, the forearm collided with Cubs first baseman 's bat.

• Their projected first baseman, , who broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch during a Spring Training game.

• Their projected left fielder, , who had a stress reaction in a rib after two Spring Training games, which limited him to 19 Minor League games last year. He swung a bat for the first time since July 31 on Thursday at the Rockies' Spring Training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz.

And if that wasn't not enough, Colorado's Opening Day starting pitcher, , missed time after trying to ignore a fracture in his left foot during his first three starts of the season, and he wound up on the disabled list for two months.

The Rox had four rookies combine to make 93 starts to help lead them to the postseason. The quartet was a combined 38-28 in games started by (11-7), (11-11), (10-5) and (6-5).

And then there was the continuing rise of Arenado.

Think about it. Having spent the first three weeks of the 2013 season at Triple-A, Arenado has four years, 155 days of big league service time, and in that stretch, he has won five NL Gold Glove Awards and three NL Silver Slugger Awards, and he is a three-time All-Star.

And Arenado keeps getting better. He leads MLB in RBIs over the past three seasons.

Those are the kind of stats that translate into eye-popping numbers in negotiations. The price, however, doesn't figure to go down in the next two years. And the Rockies are aware of that.