A day after sending all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for Austin Gomber and four prospects, Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich met with the Colorado media.
Following are highlights from the hour-long news conference:
Initial comments on trade:
“I am aware this is not a popular decision, but I promise you it wasn’t made with haste. I’m a fan first. I think you all know that our players are like family to me. We were blessed by Nolan, and we all had a front row seat to watch this unbelievable player. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. I will always wish Nolan, and his family the very best.”
On what drove the decision to trade Arenado:
“A year ago we tried to find out whether there was a fit for Nolan quietly. That was Nolan’s and our hope. Then it got out. .. We shut it down because there wasn’t anything that was a fit.
“If I had my druthers, I would rather have Nolan Arenado, but it was no one’s choice. He wanted to move on. I’ve speculated over the last year why, and I’ve talked to Nolan a lot about it over the last year. But the fact remains that I think he just felt it was time for him to try something else out.
“That said, what do you do? You can just wait and have him opt out at the end of the year and you get a draft choice. Or you can talk to some other teams and see if you can make a better deal. Although there’s a lot of financial ramifications in this, I think the fact of the matter is we honored what Nolan wanted to do and we made what we thought was the best thing we could do at the time. … This didn’t just all of a sudden happen. This took a lot of work. So, I think these are the results of that.”
On why Arenado asked to be traded so soon after signing a contract extension:
“I have anguished for many sleepless nights why that happened. … In all our conversations with him, he never just said it was this or that, or whatever.”
Did Arenado say he was going to opt out?
“He had told us he wanted to be traded, so our assumption was that he would opt out (at the end of the year).”
On how finances went into decision to make the trade:
“I don’t think the decision to do this trade with Nolan, yeah there are some financial ramifications going forward, but I think this was something we started dealing with before the pandemic. … Nolan’s desire to move on didn’t change. And so I think we just continued the process that we had started a year ago,”
On making this particular trade now:
“In dealing with this we tried to find a way that we could get the greatest return possible. … There were many teams that we talked to, and there were many deals that made no sense. And to be quite honest, there were 10 times over the last two weeks where I didn’t think the St. Louis deal made any sense. But Jeff did an incredible job of pushing the talent, and I know none of us know these guys real well specially since there was no minor league season last year, but our amateur scouts had seen these guys, and some of them… these are talented guys.”
On whether he has considered firing himself or Bridich:
“I haven’t thought about firing Jeff….I have thought about firing myself, but I have not thought about firing Jeff.”
On what he would tell Rockies fans angry in the wake of Arenado trade:
“I am a fan… so I understand how they feel. And to be quite honest, I would probably feel the same way, and maybe I do even feel the same way. Like I said, when we signed Nolan it was in an attempt to keep Nolan here for the rest of his career, but things do change.
“I truly in my heart believe that this is a very talented team that underperformed the last couple of years. I’m not even going to count last year because it was a difficult year, but I think we underperformed.
“I believe we’re shorter talent than we were a year ago. But we’ve got a lot of guys that, to be quite honest, it’s time to cut bait. This could be the challenge that they need. This could be: They need to step up and fill in this void.
“… We’re going to face some issues with our fans and we’ll deal with it. And hopefully we can get off and start playing well and in time the fans will understand,”
On where Rockies stand in the major league pecking order:
“We do everything in our power to keep this team as competitive as possible. We know that we’re not going to ever get out there and and go after Gerrit Cole or some of the really top line free agents, because, you know, we’re in a grouping, a mid-market team where we just can’t take that that risk.”
On losing DJ LaMahieu to the New York Yankees in free agency:
“In hindsight losing DJ LeMahieu was a big deal. In hindsight I wish we could’ve figured out a way to keep DJ. We wish we could redo that.”
On role in making baseball decisions:
“I’m a fan so I communicate with Jeff a lot. We talk about different players. You know I’m a homer, I love all the players that come up through our system. So, you know, I always hate to to get rid of any of them. …
“I go to every game here, so it seems like all the time I’m telling Jeff, ‘I know he hits well here,’ but I try not to get in the decision process. The Nolan deal was a little different because it was a large contract. … And so, when you got a combination of money and players it took a little coordination, but no I try I try not to get involved in that.”
Why not just keep Nolan for six more months and not send money to St. Louis?
“If we had played it out, let Nolan opt out, we would have paid Nolan $35 million this year and we would have got one draft pick at the end of the year. … So that’s what we would have got.
“So what we ended up doing was, we deferred some money, we paid him some money over time, and we were able to pick up five players. We felt relatively comfortable that four of those five players would have been the type of guy that we might have got with that one pick.”
On if this trade signifies an organizational failure:
“If we are looking to pass blame, you can blame me. It’s the job of the GM to create a team that competes and wins as much as humanly possible.”
On public criticism of the deal:
“It comes with the territory. It’s a part of the job. It’s a public job. It’s a public organization. That’s part of a great element of sport. … I try to stay off of social media as much as possible and as best I can.”
On his fractured relationship with Nolan:
“I think that when you (sit) in this chair, and in this job, when you recommend that we sign him to a quarter of a billion dollar contract, that comes with an incredible amount of belief in that person. You don’t push for that sort of a commitment, and that sort of contract unless you believe in the person, you believe in the talent, you believe in the future of the organization with that player. But over time, sometimes relationships change, and this is not an easy industry to be in. People are competitive and and human beings change over time: our feelings, what’s important to us, and sometimes there are complications. It’s not always a straight line. And it’s not always simple. And it’s not always easy.”
“There are relationships in our human existence that do last forever. But we are human beings in a business where sometimes relationships don’t last forever and commitments don’t last forever, and it’s not just endemic to this particular sport, baseball, it’s all over sports. … In this case, Nolan’s desire was to move on and be with a different organization. We tried to honor that.”
“The relationship wasn’t always peaches and cream. There were some bumps, here and there, and relationships change over time. Could I have done a better job in certain areas? You betcha. Absolutely. And I can always do a better job in certain areas of my job in this organization, I think that goes without saying and I think that’s part of the human experience in this industry. I take that to heart and I don’t think I’m blind to that. But I can’t sit here and speak for how Nolan Arenado feels right now. I certainly try like heck not to do that: speak publicly for players. And I really have never gotten in a public war of words or a public conversation with a player. I try to keep those things private out of respect to everybody involved.”
Will this trade impact the team’s ability to target free agents?
“There certainly a lot of agents that have checked in since the news broke last week.”
Is this a rebuild for the Rockies?
“This certainly is not a total teardown and rebuild like certain teams have chosen to undergo over time. I think if that were the case, certain players would have already been traded right or we would have made serious overtures to move certain players in an effort to completely tear down and start a complete rebuild. So, no, I don’t think that, we don’t think that this is the case for our situation right now.”
On responsibility Bridich takes in failure to build a winner the last two years:
“I take a ton of it, That’s my job.”
On where Trevor Story fits into future:
“We certainly cherish having Trevor as our shortstop, and it’s very difficult to answer your question directly, very difficult to predict what the coming months, what they’re going to look like. … It’s somewhat difficult to predict because of a number of factors, exactly how this is going to look for Trevor in the near future and for other players in the future.”
On leaving the Rockies:
“I am going to miss my teammates. They are my brothers. My intent was to be there. But things change.”
On how much his fractured relationship with Jeff Bridich played a part in wanting to leave:
“My relationship with the Rockies is just fine. I’m not going to sit here and talk about bad things, I don’t have any bad things to say. The last few years were tough in Colorado… But I’m not part of that team anymore and don’t have a whole lot to say about where they’re headed or where they’re not. I just know I’m joining a great team and I did the best I could there.”
“Things change and I couldn’t be happier for them to change and to be in this situation now.”