SAN DIEGO -- Let's start here: The chances of a Nolan Arenado trade are slim.
Yet, it's also true that the Rockies are willing to consider offers for their franchise player, one source said Wednesday, thus raising the possibility of a blockbuster trade to equal the magnitude of this week's record-setting signings.
The Dodgers are perhaps the most logical fit, strictly based on the possible player exchange between the two rosters, although there's the obvious question of whether the Rockies would move the five-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner to a division rival.
And the Dodgers face newfound pressure to make a major addition, after watching Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon sign elsewhere on consecutive days during this week's Winter Meetings.
The Dodgers have longstanding interest in Arenado, who grew up as a Dodgers fan and attended El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., 50 miles southeast of Dodger Stadium. If the Dodgers seek a marketing component to their offseason shopping, Arenado represents a bigger splash than free agent Anthony Rendon, who came off the board Wednesday night when he agreed to a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels.
Given Arenado's connection to the region and yearning to win, it's doubtful that his full no-trade clause would be invoked to block a trade to the Dodgers.
Arenado's contract still poses one major complexity, as noted by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who first reported the Rockies' openness to trading him: An opt-out clause after 2021 is sure to limit the willingness of suitors to surrender top prospects -- unless the opt-out disappears from the contract as part of the trade.
In fact, there is a mechanism for that to occur: As a condition of waiving his no-trade clause, Arenado could ask that his contract be extended for an additional year in exchange for removing the opt-out from the language. The added guarantee likely would be essential from the perspective of the Major League Baseball Players Association, which generally does not permit value (i.e., the opt-out) to be taken out of a contract without corresponding value added to it.
Arenado's contract has seven years and $234 million remaining, which translates to an average annual value of $33.4 million. The deal Rendon just agreed to has an average annual value of $35 million. Of note, the two players are similar in age: Rendon is 29, and Arenado turns 29 in April.
The Dodgers also have spoken with the Indians about acquiring Francisco Lindor from the Indians. Thus far, the Dodgers have refused to include star infield prospect Gavin Lux in any deal for Lindor. However, it's easier to envision Lux being dealt for Arenado than Lindor, given the term of control on each player; Lindor is eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.
In addition to the Dodgers, other clubs known to be pursuing third basemen -- such as the Rangers, Braves and Nationals -- could shift focus to a trade for Arenado if they miss on the top remaining free-agent third baseman, Josh Donaldson.