DENVER — St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak grew nauseous over the past few days, wondering if the Nolan Arenado trade would fall apart. With the deal official, Rockies fans are the ones left feeling sick.
Tuesday, Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich sparred with the press, attempting to articulate a deal that has been described as one of the worst in major league history. At the same time, Nolan Arenado smiled on a Zoom call broadcast live on MLB Network, rejuvenated by a fresh start with a perennial contender.
"As a kid, you dream of winning a World Series, and that's still the dream now. To join this organization, they care about winning and about getting things done, and that's really exciting," Arenado said. "I am going to miss my teammates. They were like brothers. And I will always appreciate Rockies fans. But I am looking forward to the future."
Arenado joined the Rockies as a teenager, developing into a five-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner. He grew up up before their eyes, became a man and got married. So his exit was bittersweet given the investment of time and energy.
For Monfort and Bridich, the reaction to his trade has been the equivalent of eating aspirins. Monfort insisted he understood why fans were so angry after the Rockies sent $50 million and Arenado to the Cardinals for five prospects, none in St. Louis' top 10 or baseball's top 100.
"To be quite honest, I’d probably the same way. Maybe I do feel the same way," Monfort said.
Monfort attempted to paint a picture that the Rockies had no choice after Arenado asked for a trade nearly nine months ago. It fails to provide context that they provided an opt-out after three years, allowing them a buyer's remorse clause if the team spiraled.
After signing an eight-year, $260 million deal, Arenado believed the Rockies when they said they would build around him. Instead in 2019, they stood pat, unable and unwilling to spend because of the failed signings of Ian Desmond, Daniel Murphy, Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. Then Bridich picked a fight with Arenado at the end of the 2019 season, blaming him for part of the team's failure. Arenado felt "disrespected" if not lied to about the team's commitment.
"If I had my druthers, I would rather have Nolan Arenado, but it was Nolan's choice. He wanted to move on," Monfort said.
Nothing, however, was keeping Monfort from choosing Arenado over Bridich, whose frosty relationship with players is well-documented. Did he consider firing Bridich? The simple anwser was no. Bridich said he should be held accountable.
"If we are looking to pass blame, you can blame me," said Bridich, insisting the Rockies are not rebuilding.
At one point Monfort was asked if he would consider selling the team, "You would like that wouldn't you?"
Many fans have advanced the idea over the past week, livid about losing arguably the best player in franchise history for unproven prospects.
"That last few years were tough in Colorado," Arenado said. "Rockies fans always will have a special place in my heart and my family's heart. This move -- I am really excited. But Colorado was like my second home. I loved it. I loved the fans. The only thing I can tell them is that I did my best and gave it my all."