The Colorado Rockies appear to be headed towards a divorce with superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado. Despite a weak attempt to walk back his statement, Arenado claims he was “disrespected” by the Rockies.
We don’t know the reason Arenado and his $260 million contract feels disrespected, but whatever it is, it must be serious. With trade talks rumored during the past few weeks, many are wondering if Arenado will soon make an exit from the Mile High City.
Arenado’s situation is similar to two situations that left two superstars leaving Denver sports teams prematurely.
In 2003, the Denver Nuggets, after an eight-year playoff drought, drafted Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony would come to the Nuggets and be the star player the team had been missing since Dikembe Mutombo left in 1996. In Anthony’s rookie year, he ended the playoff drought and the Nuggets were relevant.
The Nuggets would make the playoffs in Anthony’s first seven seasons. Heading into the 2010-11 season, Denver wanted to sign Anthony to an extension. His contract was set to expire the following offseason.
The Nuggets were willing to pay Anthony a max contract to stay with the organization. Anthony informed the Nuggets that he was unlikely to sign an extension and would leave in free agency if the team were unable to trade him.
The Nuggets were put in a tough spot. Learning from past mistakes, the Nuggets realized they could not let Anthony leave without getting something in return. As the trade deadline approached, the Nuggets traded Anthony (along with Chauncey Billups) to his preferred destination, the New York Knicks.
In return, the Nuggets received Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov, along with draft picks. The compensation was very good. However, none of these players were close to the star power or talent of Anthony.
While the Nuggets did reach the playoffs in the year they traded Anthony and two years that followed, the trade was the catalyst to the Nuggets falling back to irrelevancy. Prior to the 2019 playoffs, the Nuggets had not made the playoffs in five seasons.
What made the Carmelo Anthony situation so challenging for the Nuggets was that it wasn’t about money. Anthony would get paid anywhere. Melo wanted to play in a bigger market with a different franchise. There was no amount of money that was going to change that.
In 2009, the Broncos fired Mike Shanahan and hired the ever-popular people-person, Josh McDaniels.
At the time, the Broncos had an emerging star in fourth-year quarterback Jay Cutler. The 2008 season saw Cutler make the Pro Bowl and look every bit the player the Broncos thought he could be when they drafted him in 2006.
Broncos Country was excited to see what the next steps would be for Cutler heading into his fourth season. The only problem was that Cutler would not have a fourth season in Denver.
From their very first meeting, Cutler and McDaniels did not get along. The main reason being that neither person is particularly likable.
Cutler almost immediately wanted out of Denver if he was going to have to play for McDaniels. Rumors soon emerged that McDaniels was trying to trade Cutler. This made Cutler furious.
Cutler demanded a trade. Despite attempts by owner Pat Bowlen to calm the situation, Cutler would not budge. Soon, Cutler was traded to the Chicago Bears for a pair of first-round draft picks and Kyle Orton.
The Cutler trade was the catalyst to the Broncos slipping into an embarrassing two-year run from 2009-10.
There was nothing the Broncos could do to convince Cutler to remain with the franchise. He couldn’t stand McDaniels and wanted out.
The Rockies should take a close look at the Carmelo Anthony and Jay Cutler situations. The Rockies are dealing with elements from both scenarios.
Similar to Anthony, Arenado’s issue is not money. Anthony knew he would get paid and Arenado already signed his big contract. When a player is disgruntled, and the problem cannot be solved with money, you have a real problem.
What do you offer a player that can’t be bought off?
No amount of money could keep Anthony in Denver. Arenado has a contract multiple teams would gladly take on his contract. He doesn’t need the Rockies to be the team that pays him $260 million.
Similar to Cutler, Arenado feels disrespected. We don’t know if it was the trade rumors, some behind-the-scenes assurances or something else. Whatever the reason, Arenado feels the Rockies have not acted in good faith.
The public feud seems to focus on Arenado and Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich. Bridich appears to have a lot of the same traits as McDaniels. For some reason, Bridich rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
There was nothing you could do to make Culter play for McDaniels. The way it’s looking again. We may reach a point where there’s nothing you can do to convince Arenado to play for Bridich.
Anthony and Cutler forced the Nuggets and Broncos to trade them. Both franchises ended up powerless.
Soon enough, Arenado may request a trade. If he does, he likely won’t be talked out of it. If that happens, The Rockies will have lost the biggest star that has ever played for their franchise.