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Bridich tight-lipped about Arenado negotiations

January 15, 2019

DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich revealed little about his talks with arbitration-eligible third baseman Nolan Arenado on Monday night."We haven't set any deadlines or ultimatums in any sort of negotiations or any sort of situation with Nolan in the many, many years that he's been in the organization,

DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich revealed little about his talks with arbitration-eligible third baseman Nolan Arenado on Monday night.
"We haven't set any deadlines or ultimatums in any sort of negotiations or any sort of situation with Nolan in the many, many years that he's been in the organization, so why now?" Bridich said at an Insidetheseams.com town hall meeting at Denver's Sam's No. 3 restaurant. "I'm sure there may be more on the line now, in terms of his future, in terms of future dollars, than maybe there has been in the past.

"But we're going to work hard to keep things moving along. At some point, as negotiations always do, you're going to find a point where you're equally happy or equally unhappy. And that's where things get done or they don't. But things are fine. We'll keep things under wraps, under our hat for now, and just kind of keep plugging along."
Arenado is seeking $30 million, while the team is offering $24 million. The sides have until an arbitration hearing is scheduled sometime in February to reach an agreement. If no deal is made, the player and club will argue before an arbitration panel that will assign Arenado either Arenado's request or the club's offer.

Whether negotiated or arbitrated, Arenado's salary will break the arbitration record of $23 million, set last year by Josh Donaldson, then with the Blue Jays. But with Arenado in his final year of arbitration, the Rockies have stated that they hope to sign him to a multiyear contract that would prevent him from testing free agency after the season.
There also is the prospect of the talks producing a multiyear contract. Last January, the Rockies signed Charlie Blackmon to a $14 million contract to avoid arbitration, but shortly after the regular season began, they reached a six-year contract guaranteeing $108 million, replacing the original 2018 agreement with a signing bonus and salary totaling $21,333,333. 
Bridich said during last month's Winter Meetings that a long-term contract north of $200 million is one the Rockies can handle under their philosophy of "responsible payroll growth."
What bears watching is the Rockies' negotiating strategy -- one that Bridich didn't reveal.
Many, if not most, teams have gone to a "file and trial" system. That means if the process moves to the sides filing figures, the team breaks off negotiations and just waits for the arbitration hearing.
The Rockies do not have a file-and-trial history. In 2016, second baseman DJ LeMahieu signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract on the day of the scheduled hearing. While Bridich refused to discuss the strategy, he said "we're still in conversation" when asked specifically whether a multiyear deal for Arenado is being discussed.
Other subjects
• On seeing three-time Gold Glove second baseman LeMahieu sign a two-year, $24 million contract with the Yankees as a free agent, Bridich said, "We're happy for him, but we're not going to be able to re-sign or extend everybody that wears our uniform. That's just not the reality of the game or the reality of our organization. So you have to make tough decisions."
• Bridich said he is looking for two 2016 first-round picks -- righty pitchers Riley Pint, 21 (the organization's No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) and Mike Nikorak, 22 -- to progress after overcoming early-career injuries. In 2018, Pint was limited to four starts because of a forearm injury, and Nikorak made nine appearances after recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him the 2017 season.
"It's time," Bridich said. "They're not necessarily kids anymore. They are starting to become grown-ups, and the clock is ticking. They know that, and it's important to start seeing some steps taken in their careers."
• Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who did his best work off the bench last season, is a free agent. Asked about Parra by a fan, Bridich said, "You sound like my mom. He was her favorite player, too." Bridich said he has talked to Parra's agent, and they will determine together whether Colorado is still a fit.
Bridich said the Rockies "haven't been overly aggressive" in the outfielder market, which also includes longtime Rockies standout Carlos Gonzalez. Bridich said outfielder Matthew Holliday was a fit down the stretch and into the playoffs in 2018, but it's a tougher fit at this point.

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