Nolan Arenado’s inclusion in Dodgers trade talks finally makes sense

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nolan Arenado’s presence in trade rumors on talks between the Dodgers and Cardinals was somewhat surprising, but is starting to make more sense.

Purely objectively, the St. Louis Cardinals considering trading Nolan Arenado makes a lot of sense. The team has struggled tremendously, and Arenado is their most attractive trade asset to leverage in a cash-in scenario to retool for the future at the MLB trade deadline.

But layer in what we know about the ethos of Cardinals baseball, and it gets much more complicated. Arenado joins the ranks of Cardinals legends that have established a winning culture in St. Louis over the decades. St. Louis simply doesn’t trade those sorts of players. And definitely not to Los Angeles without an uprising.

But maybe 2023 is different?

It sure seemed that way when Arenado’s name came up in trade rumors connecting the Dodgers as a landing spot. And the following team actions were remarkably confusing, once again leaving the wrong person in the organization to address things with the media. Arenado addressed the rumors on his own on Friday, without the support of manager Oli Marmol or President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.

That, partially, makes sense, as Mozeliak can’t comment on ongoing talks as it could hurt the chances of a deal going through. But the fact that Arenado was clearly confused about the situation was troubling, as the Cardinals and he clearly have not engaged in talks on the possibility of him going to Los Angeles.

Such talks would be necessary if he were to be traded because Arenado has a no-trade clause that would necessitate him signing off on the location of the deal.

New information has been reported, though, that makes it all make a bit more sense.

MLB rumors: Nolan Arenado’s name came up with Dodgers as an afterthought

Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported about the Arenado conversations.

Bowden said he heard that Arenado was not the primary subject of discussions (subscription required) between the Cards and Dodgers. Instead, the conversations kicked off because the Dodgers were inquiring about the availability of Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery, two unsurprising names to see mentioned in trade talks.

The Cardinals requested Los Angeles’s top pitching prospect in return (presumably, Gavin Stone). Los Angeles then came back and said they would not include that prospect unless Arenado was involved.

So, the trade was not so much the Cardinals shopping Arenado around, or even another team inquiring about his price directly, but rather Arenado coming up as a peripheral part of a different conversation entirely.

Now, that doesn’t mean the trade won’t happen, because it does sound like both sites have drafted what it might look like and at least given the possibility some thought. But that’s how the talks originated.

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