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Amid Arenado situation, Rox focused on season

Colorado players look ahead to 2020 at Rockies Fest
@harding_at_mlb
January 25, 2020

DENVER -- Maybe the pop of gloves and crack of bats can’t eliminate all disagreements, but the Rockies believe the sounds of a new season will help the team move past the strife between third baseman Nolan Arenado and the front office. That’s the way manager Bud Black and Rockies

DENVER -- Maybe the pop of gloves and crack of bats can’t eliminate all disagreements, but the Rockies believe the sounds of a new season will help the team move past the strife between third baseman Nolan Arenado and the front office.

That’s the way manager Bud Black and Rockies players who spoke to the media Saturday at Rockies Fest are taking the situation. Arenado has been subject to trade rumors all offseason, and on Monday, he went public with his dispute with general manager Jeff Bridich and the front office. Beyond saying that the problems are deeper than trade rumors, Arenado did not elaborate.

But even with all the reports of interested teams, there have been no indications that a deal is near for Arenado, who is entering the second season of an eight-year, $260 million contract that has an opt-out after 2021 and a full no-trade clause. The Rockies are of the belief that last year’s 71-91 finish, which came after two straight postseason trips, can be reversed with rebounds from key players and pitchers. With a tight payroll budget, Colorado has added no free agents and made no Major League trades, so it will have to be that way.

The chances of trading Arenado and emerging with a team the Rockies feel is capable of winning are slim. So when the offseason is done, Arenado and the Rox are in this together.

“Whatever happens, we'll do a good job of handling it,” said shortstop Trevor Story, who is reportedly on the verge of signing a two-year, $27.5 million contract. “I can't speak for Nolan, but we're just worried about our clubhouse and trying to win games. We’re all pros here, and we’ll continue that.

“Everyone involved wants to win. That's what we're going to try to do. You can only control what you can. I try not to worry too much about what I can't control, and that's what we're going to try to do.”

Many of the questions now -- and going into the season -- will be about Arenado's situation, but Black remembers dealing with a more serious situation during his playing career. He pitched for the 1982 Royals team that went to the postseason. But the following year, three of Black's teammates (Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens and Jerry Martin) received jail sentences for involvement in a scandal involving cocaine.

That team faltered, but the Royals returned to the postseason in 1984 and won the World Series in ’85. Stars such as George Brett, Hal McRae and Dan Quisenberry helped pull the team through a situation that was far more serious than the Rockies’ potential distraction.

“It carried over into the next couple of seasons,” Black said. “That can show you from one season to the next, things can be drastically different.”

Black, who said he has left a message for Arenado but has not made contact, said this is not a situation that affects others.

“Players are wired to play right and have gone through seasons -- even going back to high school baseball, college baseball, Minor League Baseball,” Black said. “I'm sure there's been instances where it's been maybe not as smooth around certain things. Once we get to camp, I think, you know, I think the focus is going to be on baseball.”

Arenado and the Rox tried to minimize the chance of distraction at Rockies Fest. Arenado did not attend. Bridich greeted fans entering the Coors Field gates, but he did not answer questions from fans or the media. Pitcher Kyle Freeland said that even when the parties are present, they’ll handle things professionally in the presence of the rest of the club.

“Nolan, and I'm sure you can agree, he's the kind of guy that no matter what the situation is, he’s going to show up on time ready to play every single day,” Freeland said.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.